How Karl Compton Would Run A Research Department
Also: America's 'Long Stagnation' and the end of the 'Mega-Machine'
This is the digest newsletter for the Progress Forum—the best essays and posts from the previous week.
How Karl Compton Believed a Research Department Should Be Run
By Eric Gilliam
Eric details a letter penned by physics professor Karl Compton in 1927 for Science, with the aim of better understanding how the structure of scientific institutions enables progress and breakthroughs. By analyzing Compton’s recommendations, Eric explores the ways in which DeepMind have come to embody them, and how they have been successful doing so.
How Fear of the ‘Mega-Machine’ Helped End America’s Postwar Golden Age
By James Pethokoukis
James notes that, next year, we arguably ‘celebrate’ the fifty-year anniversary of America’s stagnation in scientific and technological progress. He discusses how avoidable this ‘Long Stagnation’ was, focusing upon the environmental movement, America’s burgeoning regulatory state, and increasingly technocratic and hierarchical governance more generally.
Can Humanity Survive Social Media?
By Christophe Rosseel
Christophe discusses the role of social media, specifically our new-found capacity to have a very large amount of social interactions across a larger swathe of society on any given day, has played in everything from our politics to our internal biological regulation. While the challenges are extensive, Christophe argues that these technologies must be leveraged, not resisted.
On Preindustrial Child Abandonment: Thoughts in Progress
By Sam Hughes
Sam chooses a frightful statistic—that some one in four (!) children born in Paris around 1780 was abandoned— as an entryway into the brutality suffered by the average family during periods of industrialization and growth. He seeks to quell the myth that child welfare dropped markedly outside of modernizing nations, and to what extent these trends have continued.
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