If you go back 10 million years and ask for an “actual mathematical model” supporting a claim that descendants of chimpanzees may pose an existential threat to the descendants of ground sloths (for example)—a model that can then be “tested against data”—man, I would just have no idea how to do that.

Like, chimpanzees aren’t even living on the same continent as ground sloths! And a ground sloth could crush a chimpanzee in a fight anyway! It’s not like there’s some trendline where the chimpanzee-descendants are gradually killing more and more ground sloths, and we can extrapolate it out. Instead you have to start making up somewhat-speculative stories (“what if the chimp-descendants invent a thing called weapons!?”). And then it’s not really a “mathematical model” anymore, or at least I don’t think it’s the kind of mathematical model that Tyler Cowen is hoping for.

If you go back 10 million years and ask for an “actual mathematical model” supporting a claim that descendants of chimpanzees may pose an existential threat to the descendants of ground sloths (for example)—a model that can then be “tested against data”—man, I would just have no idea how to do that.

Like, chimpanzees aren’t even living on the same continent as ground sloths! And a ground sloth could crush a chimpanzee in a fight anyway! It’s not like there’s some trendline where the chimpanzee-descendants are gradually killing more and more ground sloths, and we can extrapolate it out. Instead you have to start making up somewhat-speculative stories (“what if the chimp-descendants invent a thing called weapons!?”). And then it’s not really a “mathematical model” anymore, or at least I don’t think it’s the kind of mathematical model that Tyler Cowen is hoping for.