All of ErikSchmidt's Comments + Replies

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

1ErikSchmidt7dJust 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.
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 We can wish upon every star that zoning laws were reformed to make it easier to build housing, or that ALARA was repealed and more sensible nuclear regulation put in its place, but those items might not be the best fits for the agenda if we're not able to realistically achieve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 housi... (read more)

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 are... (read more)

What do people make of growth diagnostics?

Unfortunately, all the links on 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.

3vollmer6dThe MCC chapter on constraints analysis is here: []
3vollmer6dThe how-to handbook is available here: [] []
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? 

1krisgulati1moThanks Erik!
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!

2Gary Sheng1moHey Erik - I'm mostly just trying to manifest it into existence at this point. Would love to connect. You can DM me on Twitter []
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... (read more)

4Daniel Golliher1moI don't really have any recommendations for low investment / high impact, just high investment / high impact. I think the nature of the problem "get people to do what is required in local government to reduce NIMBY power" inherently requires a lot of effort to do well. And the pre-requisite is educating people []. That's why one of the keystones of Maximum New York is my class, The Foundations of New York. [] In general, I think it's relatively easy to get people to show up to civic/government things if they really understand how the government works, the organizer keeps the environment chill/fun, and each individual can connect showing up to concrete longer term change. (This is part of what I call the "buddies and pals" theory of political change. It works []!) But the hard work that precedes this easy option is actually educating people to a pretty high level, at which point they possess the psychological capability of being intrinsically interested in government. You don't really have to force them to do anything at that point, they'll want to. As far as organizing something in Philly: I don't know the particulars of its governmental structure and relationship to Harrisburg as well as NYC/Albany. If I wanted to get a group together in Philly, I'd first find a cool story of relatively recent, impressive change that's occurred in that system, and then write a post that says something like "let's do this again, good change is possible!" That grounds the meetup with a concrete example of good change, and gives people something to grip as they ascend the education cliff, which I think is vital to civic motivation. (And political pedagogy [] is its own separate challenge for instructors and civic group leaders.)
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 ... (read more)

2ryan_b2moI agree that making direct comparisons don't make sense on their own merits; I used them as stand-ins for the previous period of American growth (which may be in the book, but were not in the link). I don't think the frontier-vs-catch-up distinction matters to the point argued in the post, though: I strongly expect the American technical frontier 1920-1970 period looks more like the China or India catch-up 1970-2020 period than it does the American technical frontier 1970-2020. Phrased another way, the time-price method gives us the same stagnation story as the conventional methods do. This is a separate question than what is to be done to speed up frontier progress. The tweet summary from Philippon is very interesting - I just pulled it from NBER, where the title appears to be Additive Growth [].
How is progress correlated with energy intensity?

I think that "Where is my Flying Car" makes this case persuasively, especially for the modern day. 

There are a few interesting articles on Anton Howe's substack if you are interested in a more historical perspective on energy use and technology. He writes on early modern economic history, 1550-1700 or so, and a lot of his writing relates to how the foundation for the Industrial Revolution was laid. Many of his posts are paywalled, however. 

Introductions thread (please introduce yourself)

Hey folks, I'm Erik. I heard about Progress Studies through an interest in economic history. I've always been very interested in the Industrial Revolution, why development occurs or why it doesn't, and what we could do to accelerate the rate of technological progress. Progress Studies appealed to me because it's a group of people very interested in those same questions through a modern lens - what works and what doesn't to increase industrial and technological advancement in the modern day? 

As some might guess from my earlier comment, my background is... (read more)