Wow, Evan - what an amazing essay this is! As a former SF resident I had not mental picture of 101 municipalities but of course am very aware of the challenges. The New York analogy is great and super helpful.The solution makes total sense - and yet it’s also clear that inertia and self-interest of bureaucrats and local politicians will work against it. What do you think will it take to get an advocate (or a group of advocates) like Green in NYC to get this going? (I guess getting your essay as much readership as possible with SF people is a good first step!)
What a great article! I think it's so important to have specific historical examples of how technology impacted jobs, vs. speculating in a vacuum. Your emphasis on culture and dynamism is especially on point:"For coal miners, for example, this would mean job training programs that widen the aperture of cultural pride from providing coal to providing energy, even in the energy forms that will win the future. It also means reusing physical infrastructure when possible, such as the recent Berkshire Hathaway effort to convert a West Virginia coal plant into a nuclear power plant.[" Focusing on the upside or "widening the aperture" of work people consider will matter a lot, as will just being open to change (vs. using regulation to stop it before we even fully understand it). This also reminded me of a study that analyzed the impact of AI on taxi drivers. The key finding was that AI helped less experienced/less skilled drivers be more productive--rather than replacing drivers wholesale: ". We find that AI improves drivers’ productivity by shortening the cruising time, and such gain is accrued only to low-skilled drivers, narrowing the productivity gap between high- and low-skilled drivers by 14%. The result indicates that AI’s impact on human labor is more nuanced and complex than a job displacement story, which was the primary focus of existing studies."https://docs.iza.org/dp15677.pdfThanks for sharing this article here.
So true, Tony! Finding ways to creatively bring the study of human progress into schools is important, for so many reasons. It will be fun to work through the specifics on how we can make this happen--and to think specifically about how this teaching can inspire kids.
When you succeed tremendously with Speculative Technologies what are the most exciting changes a normal person just living their lives will see?How will we experience the world differently in 2051? What will our homes look like? Our daily experience of work and going places? Our leisure activities? ... or anything else that will be enabled by the new materials and technologies that are beyond the cutting edge now. Or, put differently, why should people far outside the progress and tech communities be excited about this work?
I'm also very curious on what we, as a progress community, can contribute to the telling of more good, inspiring stories. If you have thoughts, please comment or get in touch: email@example.com.
When I read this I felt a need to shout "YES!!" to all of this. In the past couple of weeks, as I've talked to people in the broader progress studies community I heard a lot of personal stories, and many of them included either influential stories (often Science Fiction books, but sometimes also historical tales of human ingenuity and invention or movies) or experiences in spaces that made possibilities real (like Disney Epcot or even museums with inspirational themes). I'd love to hear from people in this community how these types of experiences played into their journey of being interested in scientific, industrial, technological, and human progress.
I hadn't thought about the regional aspects, but it makes total sense, and it reminds me of this post by Paul Graham that talks about cities and ambitions: http://www.paulgraham.com/cities.html
Excited that you'll do some work on this, Matt--looking forward to reading it.
Thanks, Matt, for the thoughtful response. My key take-aways are that (1) in person events are helpful to get new relationships going because of trust & discovery, and (2) we should keep these meeting small (or create smaller sessions in larger meetings) and (3) purposefully get people together who otherwise might not talk, and ideally have them not just be passive but work on something together in those sessions. Some good initial thoughts in any case; thank you!
Anton Howes has been writing about an innovation mentality as critical in brining about the Industrial Revolution. Joel Mokyr discussed the importance of culture - the beliefs, values and preferences that influence behavior - as critical. How do you think about our culture in the US today as it relates to innovation? Where are we strong, and where are there opportunities for improvement? I'm especially interested in how this may be changing: can we see differences in cultural attitudes across US generations? E.g., are younger people more innovation oriented now than they were decades ago - or less? And especially if less--what do you think is the best way of fostering an innovation culture especially among young people? (Or, put differently, what are the key obstacles you see?)