Discover more from The Roots of Progress
My review of The Rise and Fall of American Growth
Event: Long Now Ignite talk
On Tuesday, Oct 20, The Long Now Foundation is hosting an evening of “Ignite” talks. The Ignite format is five-minute talks with slides that advance automatically every 15 seconds—speakers don’t control their slides, so they have to rehearse and they can’t go over! It’s a fun and engaging format. I’ll be giving a five-minute talk on cement.
The Rise and Fall of American Growth: A summary
The Rise and Fall of American Growth, by Robert J. Gordon, is like a murder mystery in which the murderer is never caught. Indeed there is no investigation, and perhaps no detective.
The thesis of Gordon’s book is that high rates of economic growth in America were a one-time event between roughly 1870–1970, which he calls the “special century”. Since then, growth has slowed, and we have no reason to expect it to return anytime soon, if ever.
Some elements of industrial literacy
Part of industrial literacy might be termed “industrial appreciation”. That is, part of it is learning to appreciate or value certain things that may otherwise be dry, abstract concepts (or even distasteful, to the romantic, anti-industrial mindset), such as speed, cost, reliability, and scalability:
Technology and its side effects
Progress is messy. On the whole, over the long run, the advance of technology and industry has improved life along almost every dimension. But when you zoom in to look at each step, you find that progress is full of complications…
“The growing gap between our power and our wisdom”
“In his response, Dr. Davis leveled a grave accusation against me: he called me an optimist.”
So begins my concluding entry in my dialogue on progress with Dr. John K. Davis, written for Pairagraph:
Interview: Charter Cities Institute podcast with Mark Lutter
I was interviewed by Mark Lutter for the Charter Cities Podcast. We talked about my latest understanding of the stagnation hypothesis, funding models for progress, and of course cities as innovation hubs.
Listen to the audio or read the transcript. Some excerpts from the transcript here.
Video: Manjari Narayan (@NeuroStats) on statistics past and present
The Torch of Progress, Episode 14
I sat down with Manjari Narayan (@NeuroStats) for a conversation about statistics past and present: its origins in agriculture, medicine, and manufacturing; the “replication crisis” in science; and stats vs. machine learning.