Results for “Applied Divinity Studies” 6 found
Naively, say there are three possible timescales for humanity, and we assign equal (33.3%) credence to each of them:
1. Short: Humanity dies out within 100 years or fewer
2. Medium: Humanity dies out within 1,000 years or fewer
3. Long: Humanity dies out within 1,000,000 years or more
In this case, the overwhelming moral importance still lies in the far-future (1,000,000+ years). So long as you accept the basic Atemporal argument of Attachments, the mere possibility of a far-future dominates the expected value calculus.
You could tweak the probabilities to assign 99% credence to the medium-term view and only 1% to the long-term view, and the math will still work out.
Growth will still matter in that it accelerates our arrival at the “saturation” point, but as estimated by Nick Bostrom in Astronomical Waste, the cost of this delay is miniscule compared to the cost of outright extinction. So existential-risk remains of tremendous importance, but where does that leave progress?
There is much more at the link. And here is the blog of Applied Divinity Studies.
If indeed it did, they are asking a similar question at The Economist. In recent times you might cite the onset of Apple’s M1, GPT-3, DeepMind’s application of AI to protein folding, phase III for a credible malaria vaccine, a CRISPR/sickle cell cure, the possibility of a universal flu vaccine, mRNA vaccines, ongoing solar power progress, wonderful new batteries for electric vehicles, a possibly new method for Chinese fusion (?), Chinese photon quantum computing, and ongoing advances in space exploration, most of all from SpaceX. Tesla has a very high market valuation, and Elon is the world’s second richest man.
Distanced work is very important, and here is a separate post on that.
I would say that almost certainly the great stagnation is over in the biomedical sciences. It is less obvious that the great stagnation is over more generally, as we might simply retreat into our former sloth and complacency once we are mostly vaccinated. Applied Divinity Studies has posed some pointed questions about why we might think that stagnation is over.
If you are looking for a quick metric to indicate the great stagnation might be over, consider total factor productivity. It is entirely possible that tfp in 2021 will be 5 or more, its highest level ever. (To be sure, this will show up as a measured increase in inputs more than as tfp, but we all know why those inputs will be increasing and that is because of science…yes this is a problem with tfp measures!) Over the two years to follow after that, we should be seeing very high tfps around the world. So that will be very high tfp for a few years.
Again, that is not proof of a permanent or even an ongoing end to the great stagnation. But it is something.
Two more general points seem relevant. First, many of the biomedical advances seem connected to new platforms, new modes of computation, new uses of AI, and so on, and they should be leading to yet further advances. Second, there are (finally!) some very real advances in energy use, and those tend to bring yet other advances in their wake, and not just advances in bit space.
But not all is rosy. If you recall my paper with Ben Southwood, the obstacles standing in the way of faster scientific progress, such as specialization and bureaucratization, mostly remain and some of them will be getting worse.
My The Great Stagnation, published in 2011, offered some pointed predictions. It argued that the “next big thing” was already with us, namely the internet, but we simply hadn’t learned to use it effectively yet. Once we put the internet at the center of many more of our institutions, rather than treating it as an add-on, the great stagnation would end. Numerous times (using roughly a 2011 start date) I predicted that the great stagnation would be over within twenty years time, though not in the next few years. The Great Stagnation in fact was an optimistic book, at least if you read it to the end and do not just mood affiliate over the title.
By no means would I say that specific scenario has been validated, but as a prediction it is looking not so crazy.
The gains from truly mobilizing the internet may in fact right now be swamping all of the accumulated obstacles we have put in the way of progress.
I also wrote, in 2011, that as the great stagnation approaches its end, we will all be deeply upset, and long for the earlier times. That too is by no means obviously wrong.
Andrew Dembe of Uganda, working on the “last mile” problem for health care delivery.
Maxwell Dostart-Meers of Harvard, to study Singapore and state capacity, as a Progress Studies fellow.
Markus Strasser of Linz, Austria, now living in London, to pursue a next-generation scientific search and discovery web interface that can answer complex quantitative questions, built on extracted relations from scientific text, such as graph of causations, effects, biomarkers, quantities, etc.
Marc Sidwell of the United Kingdom, to write a book on common sense.
Yuen Yuen Ang, political scientist at the University of Michigan, from Singapore, to write a new book on disruption.
Matthew Clancy, Iowa State University, Progress Studies fellow. To build out his newsletter on recent research on innovation.
Samarth Athreya, Ontario: “I’m a 17 year old who is incredibly passionate about the advent of biomaterials and its potential to push humanity forward in a variety of industries. I’ve been speaking about my vision and some of my research on the progress of material science and nanotechnology specifically at various events like C2 Montreal, SXSW, and Elevate Tech Festival!”
Applied Divinity Studies, this anonymously written blog has won an award for his or her writing and blogging. We are paying in bitcoin.
Jordan Mafumbo, a Ugandan autodidact and civil engineer studying Heidegger and the foundations of liberalism. He also has won an award for blogging.
3. Don Boudreaux on “Tyler vs. Tyler.” (Usually a rich topic, I might add.) In my view, the mobility data and cross-comparative data show that most of the real resource costs have come from fear and risk avoidance, not from lockdowns per se. See this work, or visit your local movie theatre.
7. John Lott update.
1. No one is really a polymath.
2. No one is really a unimath, for that matter.
3. Many supposed polymaths apply a relatively small number of learning techniques to many fields. They remain specialized, although their modes of specialization happen not to line up with how the academic disciplines are divided. Say you apply non-parametric statistics to five different fields — do you have one specialization or five?
4. What to make of the economist who can run experiments, use computational methods, build models, run regressions, find new data sources, has mastered machine learning, can speak fluently about macroeconomics, and popularize for a lay audience. Is there any such person? (No.) Would he or she count as a polymath?
6. One of my views in talent search is that extremely talented people are almost always extraordinarily good at one or more entirely trivial tasks. “I can tell exactly how much people weigh just by looking at them.” That sort of thing. What is your claim in this regard? Polymaths also must encompass the trivial!
7. How many “polymaths” are great at say only seven very trivial tasks, and fail to excel at anything important. Should the polymath concept be held hostage to Jeremy Bentham?
8. Is Leibniz — amazing philosopher, an inventor of the calculus, mastery of languages, theologian, diplomacy, legal reform, inventor, political theorist, and supposed expert on China — the most amazing polymath of all time?
9. Leonardo seems a little thin in actual achievement (though not imagination) once you get past the visual arts. And there are fewer than fifteen paintings to his name.
10. I think of the 17th century as a peak time for polymaths. Enough chances to learn and create things, and read lots, but not so much knowledge that you could stand on only one frontier.
11. John Stuart Mill is the most impressive polymath economist.
12. Alan Turing contributed to virtually every field, but in some sense he did only one thing. Von Neumann did more than one thing, did he do two? He too contributed to virtually every field.
13. I am very much a fan of Susan Sontag, but I think of her as having done, in essence, “only one thing.”
14. Here is a good piece Beware the Casual Polymath.
I am very happy to recommend this book, especially to MR readers, the full title is The Polymath: A Cultural History from Leonardo da Vinci to Susan Sontag, by Peter Burke.