jasoncrawford

Author, The Roots of Progress (rootsofprogress.org). Part-time tech consultant, Our World in Data. Former software engineering manager and tech startup founder.

Comments

Highlights from The Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie

Yes, I remember that too—can't remember where I read about it, maybe Yergin's The Prize. The analogy that occurred to me was web/app analytics, especially the social media apps that learned to measure their “viral coefficient” around the late '00s

A dashboard for progress

Maybe, but cars aren't the only things we make out of metal, either. I deliberately made the categories as broad as possible while staying objective. Still, I agree there's an issue here.

A dashboard for progress

But cars getting better and cheaper shows up as more total cars getting sold, which does show up as increased material usage, at least up to a point.

A dashboard for progress

Not obvious: in many cases, greater efficiency actually increases total resource usage! See Jevons Paradox.

It's possible we're at a turning point on one or more resources where we've kind of saturated the market… but I'm far from convinced.

That said, a productivity metric like you mention is also a good idea. I chose that for agriculture because I do think we have saturated that market.

How to end stagnation?

Here are some introductory posts that explain why progress matters:

I agree that the bar keeps getting raised, and therefore progress gets more difficult. I don't see why that implies any asymptote. (I wrote in a previous post why exponential growth should be our baseline, even as we pick off low-hanging fruit.)

How to end stagnation?

Great! Merkel made a good statement also. But the praise should be coming from world leaders everywhere.

Technological stagnation: Why I came around

Interesting, but I think you're underestimating the impact of other general-purpose technologies, such as in energy or manufacturing. New energy sources can be applied broadly across many areas, for instance.

Technological stagnation: Why I came around

One clarification: This is about the technological frontier, not about global development. See my followup post.

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