As a New Yorker, I see New York as the centre of the world. So, as global ruler, I would make my HQ there. But I would indulge myself by bringing back the Concorde. I’m always on aeroplanes and in airports but I have little tolerance for it. My private Concorde would make life more efficient, and pleasant.
As ruler, my days would begin fairly late. I’m a night owl, so one of my first policy interventions would be to shift everyone’s schedule back by an hour or two. In particular, I’d want to combat this puritanical idea of sending kids to school so early. There’s evidence that children are not biologically suited to waking up that early and, as a result, they’re less alert throughout the day.
At school, I’d reform how we teach maths to kids, shifting the focus towards statistics and probability. Now we have so much data at our fingertips, it’s more important than ever that people understand how to interpret it properly. Although parents would object, teaching kids how to play poker and backgammon would give them a much more intuitive sense of how probability works. Kids learn English primarily through speaking, listening and reading, rather than through grammar lessons. Similarly, in maths you can learn the rules by deduction, if you’re encouraged to experiment with data sets.
One group of people who would benefit from knowing how to interpret data better are political pundits. In order to create more accountability, I would bring in a law requiring them to place bets on their predictions. If that brought about a world with no political pundits—well, good! They add little to the conversation. I’m too much of a libertarian to ban things outright, but I’m not above setting up a market to make that the likely result.
Looking at the media more broadly, I’d want to change the American obsession with distinguishing so sharply between “opinion” and “news.” Does the fact you’re writing an op-ed column mean you don’t have to be truthful and accountable? Does reporting the news mean you’re not allowed to express a view? Something closer to the British newspaper approach seems more honest—being clear in saying: “Here’s how we approach things politically, and we’re going to analyse information from this point of view.” Instead, we have this pretension of journalistic objectivity in…