Hannes Malmberg


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Is Innovation in Human Nature?

This is a nice post. I have a similar feeling about 18th century Britain -- they are just discovering that you should innovate, and do so in every possible direction. 

The argument is also consequential. Suppose people avoided innovation even though it was easy and profitable. 

Where does that leave progress studies/economics?

On a basic level, easy: materialism is out, and culturalism is in. 

However, then you realize that material incentives and rational choice provide the intellectual scaffolding for a vast share of all research in economic history. Cultural explanations are on the rise with Jacobs, Mokyr, and McCloskey, but while they are stimulating (and important!) conjectures, they're far from rational choice in terms of coherence and sharpness. 

So on one level, the post is a fun observation about innovation, but on a deeper level, it asks us to reconceptualize vast swaths of social science!


How curing aging could help progress

I think both points are very important. I also think they reduce the old guard risk. ,

Consider an example where a researcher is powerful in a paradigm that either is wrong or stagnant.

Currently, cognitive decline and a short horizon make it unattractive admit failure and start from scratch. Instead, you fight a rearguard action until retirement.

With longevity and 100 years to go, you would realize that defending the old paradigm is a losing battle, and you also have lots of time and cognitive ability to get back in learning mode and come back stronger.