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Knowledge and Power: The Information Theory of Capitalism and How it is Revolutionizing our World Hardcover – June 10, 2013

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Regnery Publishing (June 10, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1621570274
  • ISBN-13: 978-1621570271
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (110 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #153,226 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

GEORGE F. GILDER is a journalist, New York Times bestselling author, and preeminent economic thinker who is credited with helping develop the supply-side economic theory. He has served as chairman of the Lehrman Institute's Economic Roundtable, was program director for the Manhattan Institute, and is the cofounder of the Discovery Institute. He is the author of many popular books and has written for the Wall Street Journal, National Review, Forbes, and other publications. He lives in New York with his wife. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

Customer Reviews

He uses Shannon's theory of information as a backbone of his book.
Perry Marshall
An author in his 70's with a trail of widely respected books deserves to reference himself from time to time, and Gilder does.
William Garber
Be prepared to think a little as you read this book, knowing that the effort will be worth it.
M. Davidson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

78 of 83 people found the following review helpful By Harry T on June 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Poetry. That's how a friend once described George Gilder's Wealth and Poverty; he was right. Well, so too is Knowledge and Power. I have just finished the hardback and have ordered an audio version as well because reading wasn't enough. Knowledge and Power is a fresh and insightful view of economics. In the last decade, I read perhaps a dozen books on economics, but still remained uncomfortable with the topic. Relationships among spending, saving, inflation, currency values, regulation, productivity, trade, tariffs, subsidies, taxes, and more were confusing in the extreme. Knowledge and Power is a giant step in the clarification of what until now seemed an intractable topic.
Classical economics, whether in the Keynesian variety or the supply-side variety, builds models of economic systems from a mechanistic point of view. That is, it tries to build systems that interact with humans, but for which the human is not an integral part of the system. Economics before Knowledge and Power had the equivalent of a Newtonian perspective: it was believed possible to construct a closed-system model that could predict behavior of humans interacting with the system and responding to incentives. Past economic models have treated capitalism as an incentive system, but in reality capitalism is an information system. An economy is a vast information system in which knowledge is distributed among its human actors. In capitalist systems, knowledge and power are together in the individual; in socialist systems knowledge still resides in individuals, but power is vested a hierarchy with no access to the knowledge. Knowledge and Power shows that information and the human, and specifically the entrepreneur, are central to any economic model.
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92 of 99 people found the following review helpful By William R. Wiltschko on July 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As other viewers have remarked, an information theory-based foundation for polical economy explained by this book is a big new idea. Revolutionary, game-changing, etc., all true. I have recommended the book to several friends, and will continue to do so, but the book is also flawed. The least of these flaws is that the core collection of important new ideas could have been explained in a magazine article. The book is divided into 25 chapters and three parts. Eleven chapters are in part one and are must reading. There are six interesting chapters in part two. All of part three can be skipped except the last chapter.

Gilder has integrated free markets and limited government under an information theory umbrella that credibly shows both theoretically and anecdotally how entrepreneurs drive economic and social progress. This is huge. He showed how more parts of the political-economic world fit together that I had formerly thought disparate.

Besides the length, a flaw of the book is that much of it is a series of extended book reviews. In many cases, I failed to see a compelling link to his information theory of political economy. Another flaw is the intellectual fights he picks with some unlikely targets. One of these fights is an attempt to resurrect "supply side" as a useful term. I agree with him on the substance, but see this as a re-branding loser.

A notable fight is with Nicholas Taleb, author of "Black Swan" and more recently "Anti-Fragile". Gilder doesn't acknowledge until the last two pages of the Taleb chapter (#18) that Taleb is on his side. Taleb has railed for years against over-dependence on Gaussian dogma, which is perfectly consistent with the acknowledgement of "surprises" that entrepreneurs produce.
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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Keith McCullough on December 10, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Summary Thoughts

1. One of the few books that attempts to link non-linearity and information/chaos theory to today’s markets/economies
2. Using economic history and market practitioners, Gilder effectively crushes the perceived wisdoms of broken sources
3. Juxtaposed vs government intervention, a refreshing reminder of the role of the capitalistic entrepreneur in America

Content Highlights

1. “Most human beings understand that their life is full of surprises.” (pg 1) #intro chapter – The Need for a New Economics
2. “We are almost entirely incapable of predicting the future. Yet economics purports to be strangely exempt from this fact” (pg 1)
3. “It is an economics of surprise that distributes power as it extends knowledge” (pg 5) #truth about innovation and evolution
4. “All information is surprise; only surprise qualifies as information. This is the fundamental axiom of information theory” (pg 15)
5. “From Adam Smith’s days to ours, economics has focused on the nature of economic order” (pg 16) promising #certainty?
6. “Interest rates are critical for information-theory economic analysis because they are an index of real economic conditions” (pg 24)
7. “Profits differentiate between the normally predictable yield of commodities and the unexpected returns of creativity” (pg 25)
8. #EntropyEconomics (Chapter 4) = one of the best named chapters of the last 3 yrs #study
9. “economists everywhere have counseled governments… to attend everything except what matters most: innovation” (pg 27)
10. “The most important feature of an information economy… is the overthrow, not the attainment, of equilibrium” (pg 30) #nonlinear
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