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Radical Energy Abundance, and “The Techno-Optimist Manifesto”
Also: Ideas getting harder to find, progress in weather forecasting, externalities, and more
The Progress Forum Digest is back, after a hiatus! Every ~week or so, we’ll send out a selection of the top posts from the Progress Forum, in case you don’t go back to it regularly.
By Casey Handmer
Since 1973, energy scarcity has driven a general stagnation on many key axes of progress, while our civilization found growth in the less energy-intensive industries of computation and services. In 2023, the exponentially expanding growth of solar is putting our civilization permanently back on track to increased productivity, longevity, prosperity, and happiness.
Our civilization was built on technology. Our civilization is built on technology. Technology is the glory of human ambition and achievement, the spearhead of progress, and the realization of our potential.
For hundreds of years, we properly glorified this – until recently.
I am here to bring the good news. We can advance to a far superior way of living, and of being. We have the tools, the systems, the ideas. We have the will.
It is time, once again, to raise the technology flag. It is time to be Techno-Optimists.
by Maxwell Tabarrok
The divergence between growing research inputs and stagnant economic growth is definitely worth pointing out and studying. Something in this production function is getting harder. Diagnosing why we aren’t getting as much growth a we think we should is important for the well-being of billions of human lives. But the evidence presented in “Are ideas getting harder to find?” is not enough to answer in the affirmative.
Today, our weather prediction infrastructure sprawls across the land, sea, and skies of Earth, and even extends into space. It collects hordes of data each day, and our massive computing power turns that data into information about our future, increasing our resilience as a species. But it wasn't always this way.
I am creating a list of famous examples of negative and positive externalities that were solved and ones that remain unsolved. Please send what you have!
So far, I have R-45, ozone depleting aerosols, lead paint, asbestos in construction. Solved negative externalities.
Solved positive externalities. Bees and farms. 8th grade education.
What else do you have?
I think that there ought to be laws and regulations governing how laws and regulations work - meta-regulations, if you will.…
To be clear, I don’t know if these would work, and I don’t think all of them should necessarily be applied at the same time – but I think that each of them could be a serious boon to our government in general.
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