Wednesday, October 29, 2008

People = Numbers

As an economist and a mathematician, one of my favorite things to do in life is to obliterate culture in favor of uniformity, replace emotions with equations, substitute markets for morals, and represent people with numbers.

The process of representing people with numbers has come such a long way since the beginning, when everyone was just a person. There was a time when people did the work of God, looked after their everlasting souls, and lived as one with nature. How far we have advanced since that time!

We've got numbers to represent all the physical characteristics of a person: height, weight, BMI, cholesterol, age, strength, top speed on bike and foot, metabolism, and hotness coefficient.

We've got numbers to summarize the usefulness of a person: GPA, SAT score, years in the workforce, salary, wage-per-hour, hours-worked-per-week, and job-performance rating.

And we've got numbers to measure the social and intellectual import a person brings to society: number of friends on facebook, frequency of comments on your wall, portion of your friends that befriended you before you befriended them, the number of numbers in your phone, portion of those number that call you as often as you call them, the number of readers on your blog, how long each reader spends there, and how many kids you have.

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