Great point. I wish we had more ideas about how to improve this. So many places we might try to fix this: philanthropists might redirect funding. We might try to provide career paths for these institutions' employees that spanned the space of current problems and not just the one problem they work on.
Related factors: it appears that harms due to technological change are much smaller than benefits due to technological change, and also much smaller than harms that we already suffer on an ongoing basis (like deaths due to disease).
Great article! I think you expressed The Argument well and similarly to how I see it expressed by those who believe it.
I’m always surprised by how many tools are available to evaluate the argument…and that its fans rarely use any of them. It’s great to see you use some of these tools to critique it!
By way of comment: at the same time, your article leaves the argument looking more plausible (to me) than it probably is, just because your critiques don’t include as many angles as it might from progress studies (especially the scientific method and the ... (read more)
Agreed. And we already have fake empathy on tap in novels, tv shows, and movies. It does have it's pleasures, but it didn't replace us, and neither will fake empathy from bots.
What is the problem of missing novelty in drug development, and what can be done to fix it?
Great points. In (good) science, scope matching is one of the most important concerns. I've always wondered why it doesn't have a (widely used) name.
Scope matching failures really do come up constantly in modern criticisms of new technologies, whether it's social media or AI. Probably happened centuries ago too
Great post. I would add that when we talk about lifting people out of poverty we're literally talking about increasing their consumption. Consumption is also a synonym for the economic part of well-being.
I'd venture to speculate that the main reason we aren't better at reducing poverty, increasing middle-class well-being, making life better for families, fighting disease, and other important goals, is because we don't pay enough attention to increasing median consumption.
What are your 3 favorite things that are coming soon in materials?
I love your essay's attempt to draw out the domains of infectious disease and compare them with regard to progress via broad measures and more specific measures.
As someone who reads a lot of the news about new papers in both domains, I see the two domains are very similar in this regard. The floor upon which cancer research rests is the commonalities between cancers. For decades there has been a War on Cancer, and lots of things are unified across cancer, including public health efforts to avoid carcinogens.
Most striking, look at the pipeline page for any ... (read more)
So well put, the "succeed by its own lights" thing is such an important idea, and probably not articulated enough.
This is great to understand.
Is there good writing somewhere on how to lower the cost of clinical trials 10x? If we focus on the actual cost-lowering, rather than pure deregulation, it's a rare area where I've never even seen someone who seems to know what to do.
Such a great question, excited to see Eli's answer.
I loved your idea that Congress should have incentive pay based on growth in John Fernald's Total Factor Productivity series. I would also argue that it's important for that incentive to be smooth and linear from 0% to 7%, and that the ideal amount is large -- at least $100,000 for each 1% (annually).
My big question: do you think there's a chance of getting this done?
There's a very, very broad tradition in our society of arguing that material progress is less important than spiritual or other things, of course. Indeed, I assume that most people studying progress already hold some version of this opinion very strongly. I do. My take would be there's little point in setting up any particular version of the thesis, because everyone can already make the argument themselves and sees Jason's article through the lens of their own standard.
And I think Jason's article is great in this respect!
Great post! I especially enjoyed the section on The spiritual boon of material abundance
Agreed that there are plenty of people with long, productive careers!
Yeah, I came here to make the same comment. It seems like the main possible dimension Dwarkesh doesn't cover. With bands there are lots of examples of great first albums that contain all or much of the bands' best work, and lots of stories about those people writing those songs starting 5 or sometimes even 10 years before the band's first album was recorded.
I'll wager that the same thing applies with scientists, even though the tasks are different. When Newton or Einstein or Darwin was younger, each perhaps had versions of many of their famous ideas alread... (read more)
Thanks for the post. Definitely a nice compact mind-expander. The dimensions you mention are familiar as major themes writers repeatedly underscore. I always remember Carlota Perez's framing of history as a series of revolutions/waves each of which is about the rise of 2 or 3 technologies in https://www.amazon.com/Technological-Revolutions-Financial-Capital-Dynamics/dp/1843763311, e.g. railroads and steel.
Thanks. Great links, including great to find Mathias Sudin.
Great post. I really like your section on what distinguishes unblocking from a blanket interest in deregulation! I've been searching for these paragraphs for years :-)
Another difference between the two approaches, I think, is that progress toward abundance gets made when a cost-benefit analysis finds an opportunity. There are a tiny number of deregulatory changes that have very strong cost-benefit analyses that we all talk about repeatedly (building more housing, more immigration, allowing geothermal to have the same carve-outs as oil and gas drilling, etc). In contrast, the blanket deregulator that you might find at the CATO institute or some such place often argues that deregulation is by default good.