The U.S. pandemic response was undermined by buck-passing and bad judgment at every turn. Tech giants outperformed it thanks to lessons from the past and better incentives for the future. - by
“Growing up, Jeff Bezos dreamed of space colonies, and Mark Zuckerberg obsessed over Roman orators. But Bezos didn’t get a job at NASA, and Zuckerberg didn’t run for office; they found a better place to be ambitious.“ Must-read article from .
“Growing up, Jeff Bezos dreamed of space colonies, and Mark Zuckerberg obsessed over Roman orators. But Bezos didn’t get a job at NASA, and Zuckerberg didn’t run for office; they found a better place to be ambitious.”
Aligned incentive structures and defined/achievable goals are the keys to institutional competence. (highly recommend his newsletter!)
Some interesting arguments here about institutional incentives: "Technology companies responded fast because they’re in the habit of acting. Other institutions responded slowly, because they’re in the habit of reacting...."
This is true: What was missing was agency: since a pandemic is a rare event, people at the CDC did not get promoted on the basis of preventing plagues so much as on the basis of being the sort of person who seemed like they’d be good at plague prevention.
Why Big Tech Is More Competent Than the US Government by in
“And in a crisis, the people in charge aren’t determined by org charts and delineated responsibilities, but by who acts first.”
Why Big Tech Is More Competent Than the US Government
"Expertise doesn’t always transfer across domains, but agency does. And in a crisis, the people in charge aren’t determined by org charts and delineated responsibilities, but by who acts first."
“It’s uncomfortable for modern Americans to ask what the ultimate goal of the government is...But an institution without an ultimate purpose is functionally dead. The only question is how long it takes for entropy to win.” July 2020
Nice. My Palladium piece was briefly on the front page of Hacker News, before triggering the flamewar detector.