Now, this is really funny. It’s not that in the current issue of Regulation, I reviewed the latest book of Daron Acemoglu co-authored with his MIT colleague Simon Johnson, and I didn’t find much to praise. What is truly funny is ChatGPT’s answer to a related question I asked “him” yesterday night.

First, a short word on Acemoglu and Johnson’s book, Power and Progress. As I explained in my review, “A Fashionable Appeal to a Benevolent State,” the authors

argue that for technology to be beneficial to society and create no unemployment, inequality, or poverty, it needs to be controlled by social power (especially trade unions) and government regulation. “Progress is never automatic,” they say; it must be directed.

It seems that for Acemoglu and his co-author, it is a general principle that individual choices are inefficient and must be controlled by a benevolent state’s collective choices. My review contains many illustrations. I also point to some cheesy statements and clichéd expressions. As we will see below, one of them, which is not the most damning, was used by ChatGPT without any prodding from me. In my review of Power and Progress, I noted:

In a few places…, the magical “social” mutates into “societal,” which only has the look and feel of something more scientific.

In this post, my intention was to quote a few, more substantial, passages of my review, when I had the idea of asking ChatGPT the following question:

Please write something, in the style and ideology of MIT economist Daron Acemoglu, on the idea that for dating and marriage to be beneficial to society, they must be controlled by social power (including trade unions) and government regulation, not just by selfish individual choices.

Our friendly robot’s answer threw me off course. I cannot but share it with the readers of EconLog instead of my own prose. I am quoting our whole conversation and ChapGPT’s whole answer, literally; I gave him no other hint. Here is what he answered (OpenAI. [2024]. ChatGPT [Large language model]. January 10, 2023):

In exploring the intersection of dating, marriage, and societal benefits, Daron Acemoglu’s framework of institutional economics can shed light on the role of social power and government regulation in shaping these fundamental aspects of human relationships. Acemoglu’s work emphasizes the significance of institutions in determining economic and social outcomes, arguing that inclusive institutions are crucial for fostering prosperity and well-being.

Applying this perspective to the realm of dating and marriage, one might contend that the trajectory of these relationships should not be left solely to the discretion of individual choices but rather should be guided by broader social mechanisms. In this view, the overarching goal is to create institutions that promote equitable access to relationship opportunities and ensure positive externalities for society at large.

Social power, including the influence of trade unions, can be seen as a force for balancing the dynamics of dating and marriage. Trade unions, traditionally associated with labor markets, could extend their influence to advocate for fairness and inclusivity in the realm of relationships. By negotiating and regulating aspects of dating and marriage, trade unions may contribute to reducing inequalities and promoting social cohesion.

Government regulation, as proposed by Acemoglu’s perspective, becomes a crucial tool in shaping the incentives and constraints within the dating and marriage market. This could involve policies aimed at addressing issues such as income disparities, discrimination, and access to education – all of which influence the dynamics of relationship formation. Government intervention might also target areas like parental leave, childcare support, and affordable housing to create an environment conducive to stable and fulfilling relationships.

In this framework, the emphasis shifts from an entirely laissez-faire approach to one that acknowledges the broader societal implications of individual choices in the realm of dating and marriage. By fostering institutions that encourage inclusivity, reduce inequalities, and promote social welfare, the collective benefits of stable relationships can be maximized, aligning with Acemoglu’s vision of inclusive institutions driving societal well-being.

This is ChatGPT speaking, not Acemoglu. But our friendly robot succeeded surprisingly well in extending the prestigious author’s framework to another area of life.  In Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, one of the novel’s characters repeats the observation of Miranda in Shakespeare’s The Tempest: “O brave new world, that has such people in it!”