About the Progress Forum

The Progress Forum is the online home for the progress community.

The primary goal of this forum is to provide a place for long-form discussion of progress studies and the philosophy of progress. It’s also a place to find local clubs and meetups.

The broader goal is to share ideas, strengthen them through discussion and comment, and over the long term, to build up a body of thought that constitutes a new philosophy of progress for the 21st century (and beyond).

FAQ

What is “progress studies”?

“Progress studies” is an intellectual community and movement focused on understanding the causes of human progress, so that we can keep it going and even accelerate it.

What do you mean by “progress”?

Progress is the sum of the advances in science, technology, industry, government, and society, and the resulting improvement in living standards and human well-being, especially over the last few centuries.

I’m new to progress studies, what is a good intro?

A few starting points:

Who is the Forum for?

The Progress Forum is for anyone interested in reading about and discussing progress.  You don’t have to be an expert or to have read anything in particular—we welcome newbies.

What topics are relevant here?

Conversations on the Progress Forum will span a variety of topics, including:

  • The definition of “progress”
  • How to measure progress
  • The value of progress: pros, cons, risks, trade-offs
  • The causes of progress, and which ones are fundamental
  • The intellectual history of the idea of progress
  • Technological stagnation: its causes and solutions
  • Histories of progress in various fields: technology, law, economics
  • Opportunities and bottlenecks in various fields
  • Concrete visions of the future
  • Progress and safety (including existential risk)
  • Progress-minded approaches to other issues of the day (climate change, poverty/inequality, war, etc.)
  • The philosophy of progress in comparison with other approaches, such as Effective Altruism
  • Research funding (including current efforts in alternative funding models)
  • Progress in science and scientific breakthroughs
  • Moral and ethical progress
  • Progress in governance and social welfare
  • Progress in health and biomedicine

Who created the Forum?

The Progress Forum was created by a small team of volunteer developers, designers, product managers, and moderators. The development and maintenance of the Progress Forum is sponsored by the The Roots of Progress.

How can I subscribe to posts?

See options here to subscribe by email, RSS, or Twitter.

What is the moderation policy?

For now we have a few simple rules:

  1. Stay on-topic (progress studies and the philosophy of progress).
  2. Be civil. Treat others with respect. Avoid insults, limit snark.
  3. Discuss, don't argue. Seek to come at the truth, not to “win”. Generate more light than heat.

Moderators may delete posts and comments that violate these rules.

How can I be a great participant in the Forum?

Beyond following the basic rules above:

  • Be thoughtful and kind.
  • Bring evidence and data for your opinions.
  • Practice “scout mindset.”
  • Upvote posts and comments that contribute to the discussion and are a good use of readers’ time and attention. (Hold the upvote button for a strong upvote.)
  • Cross-post relevant pieces of yours to the Forum (and enter the original link in the field for the “linkpost URL”)

How can I contact the Progress Forum?

See how to Contact Us!

5

6 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 4:29 AM
New Comment

Love it,  I'm a rabid fan of David Deutsch and think he's essentially answered these questions, so for fun I'm going to take a stab at them below.

  • The definition of “progress”: Increase in wealth, which is "the set of possible transformations." This occurs through knowledge growth, which was described by Karl Popper as a process of conjecture and refutation.
  • How to measure progress: Again, how do we measure the number of possible transformations? When the Wright brothers discovered flight, they opened a new set of possible transformations. (I wonder - what's the value of measuring this?)
  • The value of progress: pro, cons, risks, tradeoffs - Stagnation means extinction, this is not a viable option. The cons are all the problems that new discoveries potentiate. The trade-off is that we can't solve old problems without creating new problems. In fact, new problems are one way to measure progress. 
  • The causes of progress, and which ones are fundamental: Knowledge growth is fundamental.
  • The intellectual history of the idea of progress: The history of the enlightenment? Of mini-enlightenments (ie Athens).
  • Technological stagnation, and its causes and solutions: Anything that prohibits conjecture and/or criticism causes stagnation. A culture of criticism and open-ended brainstorming can't help but make progress.
  • Histories of progress in various fields (as are often featured on this blog)
  • Opportunities and bottlenecks in various fields: What processes interrupted conjecture/criticism in those particular fields?
  • Visions of the future: A dynamic society, dominated by rational memes where anti-rational memes (memes that survive by disabling criticism) have no purchase.
  • Progress and safety (including existential risk): Knowledge growth, problem-solving and wealth creation.
  • Progress-minded approaches to other issues of the day (climate change, poverty/inequality, war, etc.)
  • The philosophy of progress in comparison with other approaches, such as Effective Altruism: EA is too focused on cause prioritization, which necessarily involves prophesy. Just focus on the interesting problems and let 'er rip! EA would do the best if they simply highlighted problems they find interesting for reasons of neglectedness, scale, impact on wellbeing, etc.
  • Research funding (including current efforts in alternative funding models)
  • Progress in science generally: All the same - conjecture and criticism. Identifying the enemies of each and improving.
  • Progress in morality, government, and society: Same as above.

The trade-off is that we can't solve old problems without creating new problems. In fact, new problems are one way to measure progress.

I think that there is some value in this frame, but I guess I see this as limited to the context where we're generally replacing bad problems with a less bad problems.

I guess it would seem a bit blase in a context where we take a problem that is only kind of bad and replace it with something that is a catastrophe.

So my tendency would be much more cautious about the potential to create new problems.

Really excited about the potential of this forum! 

Question: when I strong upvote the vote count only ticks up by one. Is this intentional? I'm a big fan of casting two votes at a time for stellar contributions!

The magnitude of a strong upvote is a function of the user's total karma and a multiplier range, see the code here.

Ahh, didn't know it was linked to karma. Thanks!

Hmm, I think it is supposed to tick up by 2. Are you sure you're getting a strong vote in? You have to click and hold for a while until it takes.