ErikSchmidt

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What do people make of growth diagnostics?

Thank you! I'll have to check these out

Philly Progress Studies - Happy Hour

Just arrived! We have a table in the way back but since it's restaurant week (which I did not realize) we may move to the bar, since they're not doing happy hour at tables.

Philly Progress Studies - Happy Hour

We're set for tomorrow - table has been reserved

Revving up the Progress Studies Idea Machine

I think to get to the "agenda" stage of the idea machine, a key is making sure that we're acting in the real world. We can wish upon every star that zoning laws were reformed to make it easier to build housing, or that ALARA was repealed and more sensible nuclear regulation put in its place, but those items might not be the best fits for the agenda if we're not able to realistically achieve them. They're hard political problems to solve that will require a lot of resources, political savvy, and likely a large coalition! And others (such as YIMBY, for housing) are likely better equipped to lead the change on them. 

I think our asset, or our "brand", is that we're a group of people that really like technological & economic progress, and we're interested in why it happened, how it can be replicated, and what we could do to accelerate it. That's the kind of people that this group is going to attract. So what can we do to help these people push for a progress agenda? 

I really like the idea of a career guide. That's something actionable that we can achieve. I guess I'm biased because I'm hosting the Philly meetup tomorrow, but I also think doing those kinds of networking events are valuable ways to grow the "Progress Studies" offering and see who is invested enough in it to get it into the real world. Who shows up to these sorts of things, what they're interested in doing, etc. informs what might be possible agenda wise - in addition to everybody present making connections that could help for scientific, entrepreneurial, or career opportunities. 

I also like this forum as a way for generating ideas, exploring possibilities, and learning new things. I agree with you and Jason there as well. One of these days I'm going to do a post on Precisionism, but I haven't made it to the Demuth museum out in Lancaster yet and want to visit before I do. 

I think another value we could offer would be if we wanted to organize a bookshare of some kind. I find that the local library doesn't have a great selection of economic history or technical books, so if that's something that we could organize, I think people might find it valuable. I often see a book mentioned by Jason or another columnist/blogger and will buy it to read it, but then I'd be happy to loan that book out to people once I finish it. On the borrowing side, I recently had to do an interlibrary loan from Tennessee to borrow a copy of a planning standards guide I needed for a project. There's probably other directions we could take this concept for having a library or directory of resources as well. I know some groups do things with tool shares, and it might be nice to have a "who's who in progress studies directory" for connecting people with each other as well?

Progress studies as an (incomplete) “idea machine”

"Would want to keep any agenda specific enough to drive outcomes, but not too specific as to turn people off from petty disagreements."

I think unfortunately, this is the equivalent of eating your cake and having it too. Progress studies, if it's actionable, largely is going to impact into the political world (because we want to do xyz things, which government has some presence in, to accelerate the pace of progress), so disagreement is going to exist. 

For instance, you mention regulations that "if removed or revisited" would increase progress. Two areas that come to mind for me are housing construction and nuclear regulation - but these are contentious, political topics. If we actually want to achieve real-world things here, I think specificity is unfortunately required. 

What do people make of growth diagnostics?

Unfortunately, all the links on RicardoHausmann.com explaining how Growth Diagnostics actually work appear to be dead links to me. Do you have another recommended source to understand exactly what growth diagnostics is and how it works? The EA forum post didn't really seem to get into the details.

Recommendations for things to read on well-run scientific labs?

I've only read a little bit of it so far, but maybe "Pieces of the Action" by Vannevar Bush? 

The Foundational Tech Manifesto: What it will take to break through to America 2.0

Hi Gary, what's your relationship to the "Foundational Tech Ecosystem"? I have a startup project that seems like it would fit into this bucket (making land use codes/zoning easier to navigate for developers & RE professionals) and would be interested in connecting with others in this ecosystem. Thanks!

The Enemy's Gate is Down: the State of NYC Housing Abundance

Great post. Seems like things in New York are turning in the right direction, and I'm impressed by your optimism. Hochul quoting Hseih and Moretti is pretty great!

Do you have any recommendations for low investment, high impact ways of reducing NIMBY power that many people might not be aware of? Either in New York, or generally in American cities. In my experience with YIMBY groups, it's difficult to get more than a a few people to show up for an event.  If those people don't feel like they're accomplishing much, they tend to get bored and do something else - reducing the chance they show up for the next one. Our housing issues in Philly (where I'm located) are not so bad yet that people need to get involved, so there's much more apathy than in high-cost places like NYC or SF. But if there's something impactful that we can do with a just few people then I want to help to organize it!

Peter Thiel’s Pessimism Is (Largely) Mistaken

I don't think it makes sense to compare America's growth vs China or India's growth over this period.

Yes, the countries were adopting similar technologies, but when America was adopting them, they were adopting those technologies at the technological frontier. When China and India were adopting them, they were not. It's easier to grow by adopting already invented technologies than by inventing new ones. This is essentially the logic behind Solow-Swan convergence between rich and poor countries, which as an economic model has held up pretty well to what we observe in the real world.

As advocates of progress studies, we should be looking to see if it is possible to accelerate the rate of frontier growth. There are good reasons to think it might be. As others mentioned, J. Storrs Hall lays out some technologies that were not adopted for various reasons. AI could greatly accelerate technological and economic development. But also, we've also observed upshifts in economic growth in the past. Post-Industrial revolution, the economic growth rate, at the frontier and per capita, was about 1% a year, then about 1.5% a year after 1880, and about 2.5% a year after 1930 (I think - my memory is a little fuzzy on the exact numbers here). Thomas Philippon's paper (summarized by the author in Tweet form here) offers some interesting insights into why this might be. We've seen the story of accelerating frontier growth before - the question is why haven't seen it again in the past 50 years. 

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