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Announcing the Progress Forum
I’d like to invite you to join the Progress Forum, the new online home for the progress community.
This forum was pre-announced here in January 2022, and quietly opened in April. Although anyone could sign up, we deliberately didn’t make any big announcement about it, aiming first for a small, high-quality community. Now that we have a lot of good content on the site, we’re announcing it more broadly.
The primary goal of this forum is to provide a place for long-form discussion of progress studies and the philosophy of progress. It’s also a place to find local clubs and meetups.
The broader goal is to share ideas, strengthen them through discussion and comment, and over the long term, to build up a body of thought that constitutes a new philosophy of progress for the 21st century (and beyond).
I invite you to post:
Essays (original, or cross-posted from your blog)
Drafts, half-baked ideas, and work-in-progress thinking, for feedback
Questions for brainstorming
Local events and community groups
And please read and comment on what others have shared.
You can subscribe to Forum posts via email, RSS, or Twitter.
The Forum is sponsored by The Roots of Progress. Huge thanks to the people who worked to create and run it: Lawrence Kestleoot, Andrew Roberts, Sameer Ismail, David Smehlik, Alec Wilson, and Ross Graham. Thanks also to Kris Gulati for nudging this project along, and to Ruth Grace Wong for helpful conversations about community and moderation. Finally, thanks to the LessWrong team for creating the software platform it runs on, and especially to Oliver Habryka, Ruby Bloom, Raymond Arnold, JP Addison, James Babcock, and Ben Pace for answering questions and helping us customize this instance of it.
Ask Me Anything on the Progress Forum
I’m doing a Reddit-style AMA (“Ask Me Anything”) on the Progress Forum now. Sign up for an account, use the comments to add questions, and upvote any questions you’d like to see me answer. I’ll try to keep answering at least until Thanksgiving.
Links and tweets
From the Progress Forum
How fear of the ‘Mega-Machine’ helped end America’s postwar Golden Age
Anton Howes on why we waited so long for the optical telegraph
How Karl Compton believed a research department should be run
Andy Matuschak launches a research fellowship for “transformative tools for thought” (via @andy_matuschak)
Britain Remade, a new campaign focused on British economic growth (@samrichardswebb)
Waymo and Cruise are now both operating robotaxis in SF (@kfury)
The American Dynamism 50, from A16Z: “companies tackling our nation’s most pressing problems” (via @rmcentush)
The Progress Dashboard, a collection of progress links and resources
Facebook AI launched Galactica, a large language model for science (via @paperswithcode). Looked cool but did not actually work super-well and got pulled quickly
We hit 8 billion people (@yishan)
For Thanksgiving, why we should be grateful for modern textiles (Virginia Postrel)
Planes are still decades away from displacing most bird jobs (by @alexeyguzey)
Intuition for why you can knock off a piece of a rock by hitting it with a piece of wood/bone?
If you know Bret Victor’s “Inventing on Principle,” what’s your principle? (@Prigoose). (If you don’t know it, see here)
A good writeup of the Gates Foundation’s role in covid response? (@benlandautaylor)
Incandescent light is “so wasteful… as to render its practical application impossible” -Nature, 1878 (via @_brianpotter). I added some context
“Toys with as much power as the great IBM computers” (@arbesman)
Von Neumann on existential risk (@IvanVendrov)
Tweets & retweets
My meta-level take on “why did everything take so long?” (thread version of this previous post)
AGI will get built sooner than most people think, but take longer to “change everything” (@sama)
10 things underrated about America (@zachtratar)
RIP Fred Brooks, who wrote the classic book on software engineering, The Mythical Man-Month
A misheard word caused a $500M nuclear cleanup (@curiouswavefn)
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Love the John von Neumann paper linked. Thank you
For what it's worth, I tried the Progress Forum. It seemed like a good idea at first.
But after a bit I let it go when it became clear that the culture of that forum wasn't going to be able to understand that unless we figure out some way to deal with violent men (an admittedly huge challenge) the idea of future progress is most likely a myth.
This may sound like hysterical alarmist speculation at first, until we remind ourselves that the machinery for collapsing this civilization is already in place, ready to go on a moment's notice. It could happen this afternoon. Everyone will say they already know this, but if we did, we wouldn't be talking about every other topic under the sun instead.
The marriage between violent men and the knowledge explosion is unsustainable. Until we get that, there's not much point in talking about progress.