Author, The Roots of Progress (rootsofprogress.org). Part-time tech consultant, Our World in Data. Former software engineering manager and tech startup founder.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.)
Great! Merkel made a good statement also. But the praise should be coming from world leaders everywhere.
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.
One clarification: This is about the technological frontier, not about global development. See my followup post.
That's a great way of putting it
Some hypotheses for “why stagnation” in my review of Where Is My Flying Car?