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NICHOLAS GRUEN

Q&A

We’re heading down under for our next speaker, who is promised to hold some fascinating insights on economic reform and innovation.

Nicholas Gruen, a prominent Australian economist, CEO of Lateral Economics and Chairman of the Open Knowledge Foundation has been described as ‘Australia’s foremost public intellectual’. Well, we couldn’t miss out on that.

Read on to learn a bit more about Nicholas, before watching him live in action at Nudgestock Global...

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What are your top tips to survive lockdown?

Make sure that you are well into writing a book before the lockdown starts.

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Tell us about a development in your field that surprised you the most this year?

I’m normally pretty critical of economists, but they did a lot better than the epidemiologists. They quickly coalesced around the right kind of response to the crisis. By contrast the epidemiologists seemed to be all over the place – here and in the UK. Only the New Zealand epidemiologists seemed to work out – along with complexity theorist Yaneer Bar-Yam and trader and trader, mathematician and cultural critic Nassim Nicholas Taleb – argued that there wasn’t a conflict between health and economic considerations in a scenario in which eradication was pursued quickly and aggressively.

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What’s your favourite nudge?

It’s followed by another nudge and then a “wink, wink”.

But seriously, it’s always been obvious that defaults are immensely powerful. They are after all, the secret of the Anthropocene. In the case of just one species on our planet, individuals innovate in small ways throughout their lives and passes on what it’s learned to following generations as defaults – ‘the way we do things around here’. You only need to do that for six thousand odd generations and you can send one of your kind to the moon and back, or destroy your home. And you get to choose which one.

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What is the piece of work you are most proud of?

Discovering the potential of public private digital partnerships, even as public private infrastructure partnerships are rightly deplored as fostering crony capitalism.

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And finally, tell us a fact we wouldn’t know about you…

I once signed up to Geni. I can’t remember when. But a good while later it told me that I’m a distant cousin of Roslyn Franklin who should have joined Watson and Crick in receiving the Nobel Prize. It was her x-ray crystallography that showed them the double helix structure.

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Nudgestock Global session title: Thinking: Keep it ADAPTIVE stupid

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