Founder, The Roots of Progress (rootsofprogress.org)
As I was writing that post, I was thinking in the back of my mind about this distinction:
This is now revised and published, thanks all for your comments! Some key revisions:
Looking forward to meeting everyone!
I think the biggest benefit is globalizing the talent market. The more remote work we have, the more companies can hire from the entire global talent pool, and workers can choose from the entire global set of employers. That is a vast labor market expansion.
It was halted de facto if not de jure, at least in the US.
I think if it had not been stunted, we'd have lots of cheap, reliable, clean nuclear power, and I doubt that nuclear proliferation would have been significantly accelerated—do you think it would have been?
Yes, I agree. But note that new breakthrough technologies open up whole new fields of ideas that are suddenly “easy to find”—as per your very example. So another way to look at the question is what affects the rate of growth in new fields.
Ah, thanks, I have read a little bit of Searching for Safety in the past, but had forgotten about this.
I largely agree with this approach. The one problem is when dealing with catastrophic risks, you can't afford to have an error. In the case of existential risk, there is literally no way to learn or recover from mistakes. In general the worse the risk, the more you need careful analysis and planning up front.
This (and part 2, which maybe isn't on the forum yet?) were really interesting, thanks. Pairs well with American Genesis, which I am in the middle of.
Do you think engineering programs today are turning out students who aren't suited to the needs of industry? My only first-hand experience here is with computer science graduates and professional software engineering. It's true that software development in industry involves a bunch of learning and wisdom that you don't get in school and only develop on the job—for instance, how to write code to deal with errors, how to monitor a web site/app for high availability, etc. It's further true that the professors don't teach the practical industry stuff because they don't know it themselves, never having done it. I could see improvement in those areas. On the other hand, I've always felt that the formal education did provide something valuable and that learning the rest on the job worked fairly well.
Another future potential to consider is atomically precise manufacturing—true “nanotech”, rather than simply nanomaterials—which could allow some really incredible possibilities such as manufacturing or construction with diamond. See Where Is My Flying Car?
That blog series looks great, thank you!
This was interesting, thanks. Totally agree that plastic is underrated, and that materials in general are underappreciated.
I would love to hear more of the history of how plastic was developed, and to understand better what all the different types of plastic are and how they relate to each other.
Synbio is a likely source of new materials; also nanotech?