Computer Laboratory

Dr Daniel R. Thomas

Supervising - Economics, Law and Ethics

(Following on from your Security I supervisions:) In order to communicate securely about supervisions we need a way of authenticating emails. All electronic submissions should be signed using your GPG key and encrypted to my work key 5017 A1EC 0B29 08E3 CF64 7CCD 5514 35D5 D749 33D9. This is an opportunity to learn to use encryption in a controlled environment so please do this properly.

If you want to read around the course I recommend reading "Economics: The User's Guide: A Pelican Introduction" by Ha-Joon Chang ISBN: 978-0718197032 which covers a range of different economic theories in an engaging way. You might also enjoy reading "The Joy of Tax" by Richard Murphy ISBN: 978-0552171618 but that is less directly applicable to the course.

Last updated for 2016-2017

Supervision 1 - lectures 1-4: Game Theory and microeconomics

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Spend at most 6 hours working on this, stop when you run out of time (I expect you to run out of time).
Exercises: pick two essays from the 3 possible and write ~800 words/2 sides of A4, do this first before attempting any of the other exercises. Then from Intermediate Microeconomics (sixth edition): 1.7, 2.6, 3.8, 4.7, 5.3, 14.1, 15.4, 16.4, 24.4, 25.1, 28.2, 28.5, 32.5, 33.4, 34.1, 35.3, 36.3 (I have tried to pick the most interesting question on each topic, if you don't think it is worth doing, skip it). (TODO: indicate the question numbers that are different in the 9th edition)

For each essay question please write a cohesive paper / essay of approximately 800 words. It would be smart if you wrote by hand, because that is a helpful preparation for the actual exams. It is up to you, though. Do not simply produce bullet-pointed lists. Work your answers into the text. It does not particularly matter what citation style you use, as long as you are consistent. (This text and options 2 and 3 from David Modic) Some of these questions have lots of sub-questions to help you think, you can pick your own title and approach that fits in that question space, you don't have to answer all the sub-questions in order (or at all).

  1. Why do monopolies form in information technology? What can regulators do to stop it? Should they?
  2. Give me an example of a zero-sum game in your life right now (regardless of direction). How would you turn this situation into a Nash-equilibrium type of payoff? And why would you want to? In a business setting, which is better in the long run: zero-sum or Nash-equilibrium? Why? Can you change a zero-sum game into a stag hunt type of game by introducing alternative payoffs? How and what kind of payoffs?
  3. What is utility? Give me a loose definition. Do different people expect different types of utility from a given transaction? Let's say you are offering a service. Describe it in a sentence or two. What kinds of incentives should you implement in order to improve the perceived expected utility of your service? Should the incentives be monetary or of some other kind? What else is a possible incentive? Why is it that Apple has more money than Microsoft, but Microsoft has a bigger user base? Have different incentives anything to do with it?

Supervision 2 - lectures 5-8: Rationality, Risk, Auction theory, Law, Ethics, Policy

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Exercises: From Intermediate Microeconomics (Sixth Edition): 35.2, 17.2. 17.5, OR from the Ninth edition: (35.2 no longer exists but reads:) "Consider a sealed bit auction amount n people for some good. Let vi be the value of the good to person i. Prove that if the good is sold to the highest bidder at the second highest price bid, it will be in each player's interest to tell the truth.", 18.2 and 18.5.
Essays (as for supervision 1):

  1. How should an IT company behave?
  2. What strategies can you use to effectively pursue people and organisations which attack your systems? What makes this difficult?
  3. Is Edward Snowden a hero or a villain?
  4. What are the economic, legal and ethical issues surrounding Brexit?