All of jasoncrawford's Comments + Replies

How can we classify negative effects of new technologies?

As I was writing that post, I was thinking in the back of my mind about this distinction:

  • Operational safety: safety from things that are already happening, where we can learn from experience, iterate on solutions, and improve safety metrics over time
  • Development safety: safety from new technology that hasn't been developed yet, where we try to mitigate the harms ahead of time, by theoretical models of risk/harm, or by early small-scale testing ahead of deployment, etc.
Draft for comment: Towards a philosophy of safety

This is now revised and published, thanks all for your comments! Some key revisions:

  • Calling safety a *dimension* of progress instead of a “part”
  • Discussion of tradeoffs between the dimensions
  • Discussion of sequencing in general and DTD in particular
Jason's links and tweets, 2022-09-08

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.

Draft for comment: Towards a philosophy of safety

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?

Why was progress so slow in the past?

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.

Draft for comment: Towards a philosophy of safety

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.

A Progress Studies History of Early MIT — Part 1: Training the engineers who built the country

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 wit... (read more)

A New Materials Paradigm Is Overdue

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!

2tsungxu2moSure thing, thanks for the link! True atomic scale manufacturing is definitely an exciting future tech! One angle from some proponents of cell-free catalysis is that enzymes is a path to atomic scale manufacturing and assembly. For example, Aether Bio [] has nano-manufacturing in the spirit of what you are saying as their vision.
A New Materials Paradigm Is Overdue

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?

2tsungxu2moI do see synbio as the most promising source of new materials with a huge range of properties, scalable manufacturing, and ability to come down cost curves amongst other tailwinds. Graphene, as an example of perhaps a nanotech material, is also scaling well [] in an array of uses after surviving a hype cycle. Metamaterials are talked about a lot, but seems like we're still earlier in their commercialization from my limited understanding of them. On the history of the development of plastics, this is thorough and one of the better resources I've found. It's a 20 part series of articles (and counting since last I checked). I've linked all of them here as the url path naming convention is inconsistent. Tracing the History of Polymeric Materials: Part 1 [] Tracing the History of Polymeric Materials--Part 2 [] Tracing the History of Polymeric Materials, Part 3 [] Tracing the History of Polymeric Materials, Part 4 [] Tracing the History of Polymeric Materials: Part 5 [] Tracing the History of Polymeric Materials: Part 6 [] Tracing the History of Polymeric Materials: Part 7 [] Tracing the History of Polymeric Materials: Part 8 [] Tracing the History of Polymeric Materials: Part 9 [https://www.ptonlin
What does it mean to "raise standards of living"?

I think the term “standard of living” is not defined very rigorously, but is generally understood to mean the overall material conditions of life possible in a given time and place. There are reasonable definitions at Wikipedia, the Encyclopedia Britannica, and Investopedia. (I checked Our World in Data's entry on “Economic growth” and their essay “The short history of global living conditions and why it matters that we know it,” but these articles don't seem to define the term.)

I would consider it to include:

  • the size and comfort of homes and their ameniti
... (read more)
Jason's links and tweets, 2022-06-08

Doesn't seem to be a way to have links open in a new tab, but if you click through to the original post, the links on that page will open in new tabs.

I have experimented with embedding, screenshotting, or quoting full tweets but I haven't liked how it has turned out in practice, so I keep reverting to simple links.

Thanks for the suggestions!

We won the war on infectious diseases, but now we need to learn from it

I think the general thesis here, that most of the mortality improvements were from sanitation/hygiene rather than from pharma or even vaccines, is fairly well-accepted. But see my comments above for how to interpret this—I don't think there's any reason to be disappointed with the medical field.

We won the war on infectious diseases, but now we need to learn from it

That would be an interesting mini-research project. Also one of us could check my references here and see what I was relying on when I made those statements…

Book Review: How the World Became Rich

Good review. I was in the middle of reading the book itself when it came out, so I finished that first and just circled back to read your comments.

I appreciated the discussion of culture but thought it could have gone a bit deeper. They discuss the Republic of Letters, but the name Bacon does not appear anywhere in the book. And there are citations to Mokyr but not to Margaret Jacob (I guess because she's a historian and not an economic historian).

On the question of human capital in the 2nd IR, you say “most people weren’t doing jobs that required more tha... (read more)

To Increase Progress, Increase Desire

Thanks for the Mokyr ref, had not read that one yet. You are truly an encyclopedia of the econ history literature!

Yes, I'm wondering about the market expansion too. Foreign trade does seem to be a part of it?

Related, see this from Anton Howes which I thought was very interesting (emphasis added):

One possible explanation is that there was some special change in England’s agricultural technology that increased its productivity, requiring fewer and fewer people, and possibly even driving them off the land, so that they were forced to find alternative employme

... (read more)
2daviskedrosky3moHa, I wish. Maybe a children's illustrated encyclopedia. Market expansion is definitely an interesting area for research here. Foreign trade shares in the economy were small, but in certain key sectors (i.e. textiles) it was pretty significant. But again, it's important to unravel whether these markets can be considered A) additional demand or B) won by higher-quality / lower-cost production. That's the story of the "New Draperies" in the 17th c. and cottons from the 18th. Anton and I have chatted about this a lot, and I agree with most of this. "Labor push" is a thing, but more for 20th-century developing economies than for first-wave industrializers. See Alvarez-Cuadrado, Francisco, and Markus Poschke. 2011. "Structural Change Out of Agriculture: Labor Push versus Labor Pull." American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, 3 (3): 127-58. I think you've hit the nail on the head—the fifteenth century is critical in the formation of (early) modernity. David Wootton argues that the Age of Discovery invented the idea of discovery/novelty/invention, and I would love to investigate this idea further. Even beyond the technical challenges of navigation, the notion—which anyone can understand—that there are new things in the world outside the current bounds of human knowledge is critical for getting people to seek out and trust new technologies.
To Increase Progress, Increase Desire

Agree with that last point. Both necessity and desire were around since the dawn of humanity. They didn't create an Industrial Revolution by themselves.

(But you could argue that by the same token, producers also always had the desire to lower their costs / increase quality. It's not just desire, but opportunity.)

Also, wasn't there some significant demand-side stuff going on? Wasn't there a general increase in wealth and consumption levels just before the IR, that was maybe significant in helping to create markets for more/better goods produced by the new manufacturing technology?

2daviskedrosky3moYes, producers have always had the incentive to innovate, and yes, they have always tried to do so (even slave economies were "capitalist"). Only in certain institutional, cultural, and geographical contexts can they be successful. I also think base levels of scientific knowledge are critical (but Anton may disagree in some cases). As for demand, I refer you to Mokyr's classic piece: []. So, sort of. Everything is endogenous. Desmet and Parente argue that market expansion leads to longer firm production runs in differentiated goods and lower per unit fixed costs (thus process innovation). But why was there market expansion in the first place? Population growth and foreign trade? In the latter case, I'm going to be working on this for a long time yet. But it's important to note that the UK TOT fell during the IR. Supply was outpacing demand in textiles.
Why Wasn't the Steam Engine Invented Earlier? Part I

Thanks Anton! Let me step back a bit and clarify where I'm coming from.

I don't know where you're going with this, but there are a few kinds of conclusions you might end up on:

  • Which invention was the most important one, the one that deserves to be called out on our historiographic timelines (did Newcomen “really” invent the steam engine, or was it Savery, or was it de Caus, etc.)
  • Whether the steam engine “could have been” invented earlier (maybe even in ancient Rome)
  • Whether science was “needed” to invent the steam engine

And what I'm saying is that in conside... (read more)

2Anton Howes3moStep back a bit?! But I like it down here in the weeds! That's a very useful way to separate out two issues here, and helps me to clarify what I'm up to. My main focus is on whether atmospheric pressure exploitation is older than the standard historiography suggests. Hence the choice of title, about whether the steam engine could have been invented earlier. Part I is really about setting up 1) the pretty uncontroversial claim that it is atmospheric pressure and not steam itself that is the key issue of debate here, because of how human energy exploitation actually developed, and 2) making the slightly more controversial claim that we need to look at industrial atmospheric pressure exploitation in general, and not to focus solely on the Newcomen variant of it. This is not really to make an argument about what the "real, first" steam engine is, but only to point out that Newcomen's and Savery's models were effectively parallel technologies, both in use c.1700-70, and exploiting the same natural phenomenon in very similar ways - both of them, according to the standard historiography, stemming from the discovery of atmospheric pressure. The reason I play up the Savery engine is also because the Newcomen engine has been overemphasised in people's minds because of its later development by Watt, and not because of what the Newcomen engine itself actually achieved prior to Watt. Now, I do briefly raise the possibility of a Newcomen engine, and thus a Watt engine, being eventually derived from a Savery engine. I do believe this to be true, and will probably write a sort of Part III arguing this case more fully, but for now I just wanted to narrow the focus of my "why not earlier" question, as I'm looking at it, on how early someone could have successfully exploited atmospheric pressure for industrial use. Lastly, on science, I see this as a sort of sub-question, though I ought to clarify it in Part II. I'm not at all arguing that "science" was unimportant, as scienti
The Last Crusade: Fighting for the Holy Land of Industrialism

I believe the crucial importance of skilled mechanics, in part because of what I found when researching the threshing machine:

… the threshing machine was just past a certain threshold of the combination of the amount of force required and the delicacy of the operation. A loom is a somewhat complex machine performing an intricate process, but not one that uses a high degree of force. A flour mill, or a trip hammer at an iron works, is a high-force application, but not one that is particularly subtle or delicate. Both of these were in use long before the Ind

... (read more)
Many university patents are anchors on progress

Hey Sahaj. My immediate feedback is that as soon as I start to read this (or your other posts), what strikes me is that it is written in a belligerent and inflammatory style. (In the first sentence, we have “plunder,” “racket,” and “stolen”).

While I think there are many criticisms to be made of universities, I tend not to believe that they are plain evil. So, right off this analysis strikes me as either shallow, or written deliberately to provoke and aggregate the reader. Either way, I'm not interested in reading further.

Sorry if that is harsh feedback, wanted to be blunt and candid.

Longevity Escape Velocity?

Seems entirely plausible to me that someone alive today could life an indefinite lifespan. Most people born in the last few years will almost certainly live 50+ years, and that is a lot of time for progress to happen. 

To Increase Progress, Increase Desire

I agree that we could use more inspiration, futurism, etc.!

I disagree with your comments on business/economics (which maybe weren't the real point though?) I don't think anything about demand explains stagnation.

For travel in particular, it's wrong to analyze it in terms of the trips people currently take becoming shorter. You should look at the trips people are not taking now because they're too long, and consider how much more such trips would happen. E.g., think of SF <> Tokyo as a day or weekend trip.

People don't clamor explicitly for new products and services, but when a business creates something that actually provides much more utility, they flock to it pretty quickly.

2Max Olson3moThanks for the thoughts Jason — helped me think a bit more about the idea. See my response to @daviskedrosky, but I totally agree that in general it is supply-driven. It's more that I wanted to give more attention to the demand side because it's not talked about as much. It is a chicken-and-egg problem in the end (and my post doesn't really discuss the balance). In regard to "People don't clamor explicitly for new products and services" I don't think this is totally true, and it is a mix. And I do think that demand is much more important than many believe in driving what gets built (and regulated, etc). Your comment did lead me to think more about what kinds of innovation are more demand or supply driven though, and given all of your research I'm curious to hear your thoughts on it. It seems to me many more incremental innovations are demand driven, while breakthrough innovations are typically supply driven. The only breakthrough innovations I can think of that were more demand driven are the result of large-scale forcing functions, like war or pandemics that radically change the demand for what is wanted and the urgency it’s needed.
Why Wasn't the Steam Engine Invented Earlier? Part I

Great stuff as usual, Anton! A few thoughts.

One thing I'd like to know about these various machines is the force or torque they were able to produce. I suspect there is a threshold crossed at some point that makes them actually useful for a wide variety of important industrial applications. Sometimes these quantitative performance details are glossed over in the histories (especially since we often don't have the data), but they can make all the difference. In this essay, I mentioned:

… the aeolipile doesn’t generate enough torque for practical applications

... (read more)
1Anton Howes4moThanks Jason, Great comments. 1. The torque estimate you shared is, as I understand it, only for one version of the aeolipile - the famous one with the spinning hollow ball with nozzles. That version is often referred to as the aeolipile, which it is not. It is simply one variant of it, and certainly not the one that people used most commonly, which was the much simpler "philosophical bellows" or blowing face form that I illustrated. I think we'd need a different estimate of the torque from a more ordinary aeolipile, e.g. the one portrayed by Branca directed at vanes. I suspect this is also very low, but it's worth clearing up this very common confusion. 2. I don't think it's correct to say that the Newcomen engine's breakthrough was that it provided motion. It was still essentially applied to exactly the same things that the Savery engine was - pumping, occasionally with additional pumping-derived mechanical uses like using the pumped water to drive a waterwheel. It is the Watt engine, not the Newcomen engine, that made the breakthrough in directly supplying essentially any any industrial power need (although arguably the Watt engine is an improvement on the Newcomen one, it took over a half a century for it to be developed from it). 3. In terms of the jump to universality, I certainly had our conversations on this at the back of my mind when writing! One thing I really wanted to show is how people had already been experimenting with or at least considering using thermal energy (steam, and flue effects above fires) for a very wide range of mechanical uses already, and in Part II I will do something similar for applications of atmospheric pressure (though this is still under investigation). At the very least, from this post, I think I've demonstrated that the idea of universality from such power sources was nothing new. 4. An additional note: I'm not sure that torque estima
We won the war on infectious diseases, but now we need to learn from it

Very interesting, thanks! I covered some similar ground in my essay “Draining the swamp;” I think you would enjoy the references in that one. Some thoughts:

Did “medicine” cause the mortality decline?

There is a lot of truth in the McKinlay paper. In particular, it's true that sanitation efforts probably did more than anything else to improve mortality in the 20th century. I think this is for two reasons: (1) Those techniques are less technologically advanced, and so they arrived first; vaccines and antibiotics that arrived later only get credit for mopping ... (read more)

2ericgilliam3moYour point on the proper, theory-led goals of water sanitation is interesting. I think there's maybe a decent way for us to figure this out. The copy of Turneaure and Russel's water sanitation textbook I used was from around 1940. But the first edition of that was from 1901. If we could find some analogous top-tier sources utilized just before some insights from germ theory we could probably figure out how much of the best-practices in planning changed from before/after the pervasion of the theory. Do you think that would be fair or did I miss something? Because I'd believe you very well might be right. What I wrote was a fair representation of my sources but this is an area where I am very aware that my sources are few. So I don't hold these beliefs nearly as confidently as my views related to something like physics in the early 1900s where my reading has been far more exhaustive.
State capacity eats interest rates for lunch

Agree: “Good governance matters more than interest rates.”

Pairs well with a point I think you made elsewhere, that we spend trillions on infrastructure (e.g., in the recent infrastructure bill) without focusing on how to get more out of those dollars.

Related, the Transit Costs Project (which Alon Levy works on) just released some case studies.

Side note: I dislike the term “state capacity,” because it conflates the scope of government and its effectiveness. In a context like this, I'd be inclined to use a term like “efficiency” or “cost-effectiveness” (which will be understood by more people anyway).

1markjohnson3mo+1 to the term "state capacity," I ultimately understood what you meant, but it took a close reading. Also, great article.
I wrote a 4k word BBC Future article on Progress Studies, and I'd love your thoughts

Thanks Garrison! I thought this was well-researched and pretty fair. I responded to some of the critiques.

(Minor correction to your timeline: The Roots of Progress didn't become its own nonprofit organization until 2021; from 2019 to 2021 I was an independent researcher funded by grants from other organizations.)


jasoncrawford's Shortform

From Allison Duettmann:

July 10 & 11 in SF: interested in driving progress on molecular machines using software tooling? Apply to join Foresight Institute Designing Molecular Machines Workshop, chaired by William Shih, Ben Reinhardt, and Adam Marblestone:

jasoncrawford's Shortform

Potentially interesting paper: How predictable is technological progress?


Recently it has become clear that many technologies follow a generalized version of Moore's law, i.e. costs tend to drop exponentially, at different rates that depend on the technology. Here we formulate Moore's law as a correlated geometric random walk with drift, and apply it to historical data on 53 technologies. We derive a closed form expression approximating the distribution of forecast errors as a function of time. Based on hind-casting experiments we show that this wo

... (read more)
PASTA and Progress: The great irony

Well, I'm also not sure if p-zombies can exist!

(Although if an AI passed the Turing Test I would be more likely to think it is a p-zombie than to think that it is conscious.)

PASTA and Progress: The great irony

Well, I'm not a materialist, so it's not obvious to me that we can successfully simulate a brain, in the ways that matter, on purely material hardware. We just really don't understand consciousness or how it arises at all. That to my mind is a huge unknown.

2Chris Leong4moI don't identify as a materialist either (I'm still figuring out my views here), but the question of qualia seems orthogonal to the question of capabilities. A philosophical zombie has the same capability to act in the world as someone who isn't a zombie. (I should add, this conversation has been useful to me as it's helped me understand why certain things I take for granted may not be obvious to other people).
PASTA and Progress: The great irony

Re “we would be able to develop AGI eventually” as “almost certain”: At least up until a year ago I would have said no, definitely not certain, because a computer is very different from a brain and we don't know yet what it can do. However, as AI advances, I put more probability on it.

2Chris Leong4moWhat's your doubt? Given enough computing power, we should be able to more or less simulate a brain. What is or was your worry? Ability to parallelise? Maybe that even though it may eventually become technically possible, it'll always be cost-prohibitive? Or maybe that small errors in the simulation would magnify over time?
jasoncrawford's Shortform

A new study out today finds that keeping Diablo Canyon open would:

  • help avoid blackouts
  • significantly reduce electric power costs
  • significantly reduce emissions and natural gas use
  • accelerate progress toward the state’s clean energy goals 

Full report from the Brattle Group (PDF)

Twitter thread from me with highlights

PASTA and Progress: The great irony

What “current program” are you referring to exactly? (The progress studies community? The world? Or what?)

PASTA and Progress: The great irony

I have read enough (e.g., Holden Karnofsky's essays) to understand the case for it. It is a compelling case. What I'm arguing against is a line of thinking like: “AGI will be here soon and it will either kill us or solve all our problems, so there's no point in working on curing cancer, longevity, nanotech, fusion, or progress studies.” There are just too many unknown unknowns.

On top of which I would add that machine intelligence, however it evolves, is something very different from human intelligence, just as a washing machine is different from a housekee... (read more)

2Chris Leong4moThe aspect as was arguing for as almost certain on the inside view is that we would be able to develop AGI eventually barring catastrophe. I wasn't extending that to "AGI will be here soon". Regarding "AGI kill us or solve all our problems"; I think there are some possible scenarios where we end up with a totalitarian government or an oligarchy controlling AI or the AI keeps us alive for some reason (incl. s-risk scenarios) or being disempowered by AI/"going out with a whimper" as per What failure looks like [] . But I assign almost no weight on the internal view of AGI just not being that good. (What I mean by that, is I exclude the scenarios that are common in sci-fi where we have AGI and we still have humans doing most things and being better or as good, but not scenarios where humans do things b/c we don't trust the AI or b/c we need "fake jobs" for the humans to feel important).
3nick4moRe the first point, I agree. I would tentatively suggest doing something like OpenPhil's worldview diversification [], where research, labor, and capital are divided among a few distinct futures scenarios and each is optimized independently. My point in the piece is that I think the current program is a bit under-diversified.
PASTA and Progress: The great irony

Yes, I've been thinking about this often.

I do think it's important to work on AI safety. I would like to learn more about it. I have been following the debate on this to at least some extent.

If we can make safe AI, then I think it has enormous potential, possibly even at the PASTA level. There's a paper from Robin Hanson where he models the log history of economic growth as a series of three exponential modes (very roughly, “hunting,” “farming,” and “industry”) and speculates that if there is a fourth mode, we are due for it soon—and that it could create g... (read more)

3Chris Leong4moI'm curious, what's your main doubt about AGI happening eventually (excluding existential risks or scenarios where we end up back at the stone age)? The existence of humans, created by dumb evolution nonetheless, seems to constitute a strong evidence of physical possibility. And our ability to produce computer chips with astonishingly tiny components seems to suggest that we can actually do the physical manipulations required. So I think it's one of those things that sounds more speculative than it actually is. I mean, I guess it's true that there is some doubt about AGI happening, but when you really get down to it, you can doubt anything. So I guess I'd be curious to have a better idea of what you mean by some doubt - maybe even a rough percent chance? I have a very low percent chance of AGI not happening (barring catastrophic risks as stated above) from within my model of the world, but I have a higher, but still low chance of my model being wrong.
Were hunter-gatherers not able to produce enough calories until age 18?

Usually the full references are in the bibliography, check there first?

The Democracy of the Future

I'm not even sure that I would say that speed has a correlation with quality in legislation. It's more that adding process, and especially requiring review and broad agreement, helps avoid some of the worst outcomes.

The analogy to an economy doesn't hold: if someone creates a bad business, you can choose not to patronize it; if someone creates a bad law, you can't choose not to follow it.

… Unless you are in a choice-of-law regime, e.g., the way a new business can choose what state to incorporate in, and is governed by the corporate law of that state; or th... (read more)

Welcome to the (pre-launch) Progress Forum!

Very cool! Would love a Progress Forum channel at some point

The Curse of Plenty

Related, an interview with David Ellison, producer of Top Gun: Maverick:

What is your outlook on the movie business and movies in theaters?

Covid accelerated trends that were already in place. Go back to 2019, the separation between winners and losers was getting pretty big.

What do you mean by winners and losers?

If you go back to 2019, you either had something that really broke out, a huge hit, or you didn’t. That middle ground that used to exist really disappeared. (read more)

The Democracy of the Future

This is interesting, but I really do want to see what ideas you have for mechanism.

The problem with law—that doesn't apply to, say, Wikipedia pages—is that if you create a bad one you can do a lot of damage to a lot of people. So our mechanisms for making law are deliberately inefficient. They are the opposite of permissionless innovation.

If we want to enable anyone to make law, and have it be really fast and efficient and low-friction, it can't be the kind of law that constrains the freedom of an entire population. It has to be something else.

2tomaspueyo4moYou have a good point that, historically, speed has had some correlation with legislation quality. But that's just a failure of the mechanisms. It's like saying that communism works better than capitalism because if you create a bad economy you can damage a lot of people, so our mechanisms for organizing the economy should be deliberately inefficient. Capitalism achieved an economy that is really fast and efficient and low-friction. But I agree this is a moot debate until the mechanisms are discussed. I'll do that in the future.
jasoncrawford's Shortform

Misha Chellam on YIMBYism broadly construed:

At its core, YIMBY is about what de Tocqueville called “self interest, rightly understood.” It is about folks who have access to a resource deciding not to protect it and make it scarce, but instead opening it up to a broader community. It is about battling selfishness in our public policy, and believing in a positive-sum, abundant view of the future.

jasoncrawford's Shortform

I've heard good things about this book that came out recently (maybe today?)

How the World Became Rich: The Historical Origins of Economic Growth, by Mark Koyama and Jared Rubin

Most humans are significantly richer than their ancestors. Humanity gained nearly all of its wealth in the last two centuries. How did this come to pass? How did the world become rich?

Mark Koyama and Jared Rubin dive into the many theories of why modern economic growth happened when and where it did. They discuss recently advanced theories rooted in geography, politics, culture, demo

... (read more)
When do ideas get easier to find?

Yeah, I'm sure more charts like this have already been made.

If you tweet about it or something I will amplify!

When do ideas get easier to find?

The particle accelerator chart is really interesting, would love to find more charts like that showing basically stacked S-curves creating exponential growth.

2ericgilliam4moRight?! I was so fascinated by that. I’d never realized what so many of the Moore’s Law type charts weren’t showing until I saw this one. I think it could be a really great project to try to crowdsource more of these charts as a community. For old and new tech. It would really give us a great peak into where we’re at and how things have changed over time. I'm not really sure how to go about it because I'm not yet well-connected/don't have a big following, but there are surely people on the forum more plugged in than me who would know the right people who could contribute some of these charts.
How curing aging could help progress

Yeah, definitely. Some people suggested that part of curing aging is extending neuroplasticity, which could help you stay open and nimble-minded even when you're older. But I suspect that closed-mindedness is a function of both social and physiological causes, and I don't know what weight to give each.

Can growth continue?

Yeah, I agree with those estimates. Basically if growth does continue, then in less than 10k years we hit some unimaginable utopia. At that point things might have to level off based on the laws of physics. But if we get there I don't think anyone will complain!

How curing aging could help progress

There was a study that looked at what happens in a subfield when a dominant researcher dies in the middle of their career. Matt Clancy covers it here: Conservatism in Science

Interview with me on Hear this Idea with Fin Moorhouse and Luca Righetti


It would be interesting to have a discussion about animal welfare on this forum. Might be worth a short post to frame the issue and invite people to share thoughts in the comments.

Re charts, we are using the same forum platform as EA and LessWrong, so we should have all the same features? Let me know if there's something you're seeing in the EA Forum editor that's not here.

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