Wiki Contributions


What would you all change the h-index to? I'm very curious!

I would like to understand what the biggest advantages of the h-index are. It seems to me the advantages are that it balances quantity and quality. Let's try the opposite for a decade or two. A measurement strategy that gives high weight to quantity or quality.

Here are some ideas, likely bizarre for reasons others will eagerly point out.

S-index = |N-log(C)|^log(C)

N = number of topics written on as measured by Milojević 2015 or more simply the unique keywords used by the journals to describe the article. C = total citations.

That formula is a response to Matt Clancy's paper on innovation getting harder. He points out that the number of topics is slowing down. So the incentive under this paradigm to work either on unique topics or on a few topics intently.

Another idea is to think that as science slows down groups and coalitions are becoming more important.

So here is a second idea, almost certainly terrible.

Average h-index of self and all co-authors. This would be something like a measure of the h-strength of one's network but gives no reward for the size of the network. One effect might be that it encourages strong research networks, which would have pros and cons, granting more freedom to the more productive clusters but making social life more important.

Increasing Demand for Progress Beyond Desire

This is largely a response to footnote 2.

In The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth Benjamin Friedman deploys a lot of case studies of social progress and economic growth going hand in hand. Similarly, in Stubborn Attachments, Tyler makes a compelling case the GDP is greatly linked with human-wellbeing, but he also allows that there is more to well-being than the basket of goods that can be currently be purchased. He calls the total basket of goods Wealth Plus. So far so good.

I appreciate that what you do here is look for a way for economic growth to correlate with some level of social change, i.e. more vacation. As a first look, I think this style of thinking hold some promise. It is impossible to detail all the goods that humans choose to purchase or tradeoff against and create public policy around them. But perhaps we can formulate an account of Wealth Plus/ Human Flourishing that takes advantage of the correlation between wealth and wellbeing.

Well-being is likely multiplicative of several species of goods which tradeoff against each other, but are hard to exchange. I want to do more theorizing on this. The example of vacation days vs. productive work is interesting. Can you share more about your model of rival species of goods?  

We Are Not Gods: The Geographic Critique of Impartial Progress

"Things like shared culture/values are important because that can be what empowers people to take a leap together, and it's especially magical when that culture (say of science) is shared among people who, in other aspects of their lives, do not share culture."

I've been thinking a lot about this recently. See for example the recent discussion on creating demand for innovation.

One dichotomy that might be useful is the distinction between invention and innovation.

Invention, as in the invention of the periodic table, the flying shuttle, and Euclidean geometry requires a set of conditions that foster freedom, unbridled curiosity, debate and play. Here taking a leap together to learn something new.

Innovation, as in taking an idea or invention and investing in it to make something real, profitable, or socially beneficial. Taking a leap together to get something done.

Not all progress comes from innovation, much of progress, perhaps even the most important types, come from invention and discovery. These are two sides of the same system, both necessary, like upper and lower teeth.

In the progress studies community, you can see this divide too. Some people are more purely interested in investigating how progress happens, others in making it happen. Two rows of teeth!

To Increase Progress, Increase Desire

I think it worthwhile to take a moment to theorize about demand. I think we are all supply-siders in some way.

Aren't you trying to manufacture demand to consider the supply side? What's the theory of demand that increases the supply-side?

To Increase Progress, Increase Desire

Having thought it about this some more, I think my point actually buttresses your thesis.

Lets imagine that humans are adaptable to the living standards of current circumstances and have finite competition points. Along the dimension of current circumstances there is zero-sum competition for status and relative power. Demand for status, relative power, and group belonging can swamp demand for a brighter, more efficient future.

So under this theory climate change action is an example where demand moved from the scientific community who identified a negative externality from carbon emissions to a marker of group solidarity and desirability. In this case, the competition to do something about it is probably net-good (although the anti-natal doomerism is a pretty high cost already, if that birth-rate effect is real), since many climate actions are productive.

So a model for boosting demand would be something like:

  1. Identify goods where when demand increases there are long term positive effects. Thinkers and prophets.
  2. Produce media content and communities around those effects. Enthusiasts and fandoms.
  3. Create institutions that actually facilitate those effects. Innovators and political possiblity.

Each of these points requires a population that is not stuck trying to find ways to conform to their dis-innovative peers full time. "Freedom for alternative demand," you might call it.

(This reminds me of Tyler's comment on dentists. The marginal dentist doesn't create much in the way of public goods. But the marginal innovative firm changes the equilibrium of society.)

State capacity eats interest rates for lunch

I agree that the article is kind of hard to follow because the concept of state capacity doesn't feel natural in the article, (this is more a stylistic issue than a conceptual one) when what is meant is something more like regulatory cost-multipliers.

If your audience is a little more left-coded, then 'state capacity' is a term more likely to generate agreement than talking about regulatory costs to efficiency, which sounds more libertarian.

I think I would have started the article with an arresting breakdown of how much of a project's cost were caused by financing, and then used that to show that even low interest rates can't help the impossibility of building even modest sized projects in the US at decent cost. The cost of financing is a big deal in multi-year projects, so creating policies on how to get things done when interest rates are higher is a big deal.

Now I'm wondering if there is a correlation between low interest rates and regulation. Do low interest rates crowd out low-cost construction, by decreasing the cost of regulation?

To Increase Progress, Increase Desire

The selfishness motive for increasing demand is actually weaker than you might think. In the three examples you chose, climate change, Tesla, and Apple, I'd make the case that all three, even Apple(?) pulled demand because they are socially desirable at the same time as personally beneficial.

Humanity Lacks Imagination to Solve Aging

Read the Silmarillion and study the elves. In Tolkien's world the immortality of elves makes them discount local pains immensely, they don't care about making happy people, and their mistakes are very hard to correct and consequently they are especially risk adverse compared to mankind.

But the elves are musical, rarefied, intelligent, and take the arts seriously, including the art of crafting. They make things which a from a human perspective are magical.

I wrote a 4k word BBC Future article on Progress Studies, and I'd love your thoughts

I thought the feature was pretty solid on research. And certainly was deep and explanatory! I wish, however, you were able to pull off a bit more gesturing at the breadth of voices in this space.

Matt Clancy, Brian Potter, who both run top quality substacks in addition to working for the Institute for Progress. Alexey Guzey at New Science. These are good examplars of the kind of gritty in the weeds work we are interested in. Such work reveals why it's hard to extrapolate out a crisp 'ideology.'

Towards the end I felt like Jason was given "philosopher of the movement" status, but I'd say it's more that Tyler Cowen is Darwin and Jason is the Thomas Huxley. :)

A Visit to the Idea Machine Fair

The internet doesn't quite hit that visceral sense of the happeningness of it all that a fair does.

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