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Study Group for Progress – 50% off
Each week will have a featured guest to answer questions—usually a historian or economist who has written on science, technology, industry and progress. Confirmed speakers so far include Robert Gordon (Rise & Fall of American Growth), Margaret Jacob (UCLA), Richard Nelson (Columbia), Patrick Collison, and Anton Howes. We’ll also have some time for general discussion.
There will be reading ahead of time from each speaker. You’ll also get the full set of materials I created for my high school course, Progress Studies for Young Scholars, a summary of the history of technology. This provides the indispensable historical framework for a proper empirical grounding of the study of progress.
The group will meet weekly on Sundays at 4:00–6:30pm Pacific, from September 13 through December 13. The guest Q&A will run 60–90 minutes, and the rest will be group discussion. (Recordings will be available privately afterwards if you miss a session.)
This is a rare chance to get access to some of the top thinkers in the history and economics of progress. Use this link to register for 50% off.
Event: Town hall discussion on Highlighter
Next Tuesday I’m doing a “town hall” discussion with David King for the Highlighter community. Topics to include the relationship between science and invention, “basic” vs. “applied” research, and progress in general.
Should be fun! Join Highlighter ahead of time to annotate and discuss my essays before the event.
The theme of the Three-Body Problem trilogy
Science fiction is one of the ways we communicate ideas and attitudes about progress. This theme, including the difference between contemporary American and Chinese sci-fi, came up in my interview with Mark Lutter (see the section “Optimism and culture”).
Recently the Chinese sci-fi trilogy The Three-Body Problem (the series is officially titled Remembrance of Earth’s Past) has been in the news, since a TV series based on it was just announced.
The Three-Body Problem trilogy was very well-written, and I’m glad I read it. But I hate the message it conveys, which is roughly: “Humanity is a fragile leaf floating on the wind, helpless in the face of vast cosmic forces that we cannot even comprehend, let alone control.”
Not everyone got this message from the trilogy, so let me explain why I think this is the meaning of the story. (Note: you don’t really get this from the first book. You need to finish the whole trilogy for it to fully hit home.)
Read the post (with spoilers): https://rootsofprogress.org/the-theme-of-the-three-body-problem-trilogy