Economist podcast on Progress Studies

The segment with Patrick Collison starts within minute eight, the rest is interesting too.  And here is our original Atlantic piece on Progress Studies.


Progress has given us companies that practice surveillance capitalism. The end state is that corporations, governments local, state, national and foreign, and organized crime have developed profiles on everybody. Information is power. Information is leverage.

Advantages of Photography over Painting - Portraits produced in canvas are
not any doubt a prized collection. Clearly, this power to create sound and concentration wasn't well
accepted one of many players who have been replaced by such
an instrument inside the recording studio. Painting Theory; a complete painting course must not just teach you
to mimic the instructor so that you can learn how to
create just one specific painting in one specific

It didn't take him long to reach "Give me da money".

Don't skip the intro, it's just 8 minutes.

Pretty good. I don't think the interviewer asked the best questions, but I think all the guests did pretty well.

When the biological species discovers the electron, that is all she wrote. You get a ton of progress and it may be infinite progress.

You write a piece on progress and have nothing to say about the role of intellectual property rights (patents, copyright) in promoting and protecting creativity and innovation...or the importance of immigrants in building and sustaining progress - think of all the start-up companies in Silicon Valley that were founded by immigrants.

Patrick Collison is an immigrant, and a founder, in Silicon Valley.

I know, that was my point, and my guess is that Patrick, like almost every software technology entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, has bought into the anti-patent groupthink and blindness on IP.

Most in Silicon Valley will tell you that patents slow down innovation. It just doesn't make too much sense for most hardware and software. For something with longer horizons for research to bear fruit like pharmaceuticals/biotechnology, it makes works. But non-life-science tech moves so fast that patents act like speed bumps.

They will say that, but have they seen the patents on smartphones? That industry took off as the number of smartphone patents skyrocketed. Just look at the patents owned by Apple, Samsung, Qualcomm, Huawei, etc., and tell me they slow down innovation.

Cell phone patents absolutely DO slow down innovation, because the giant patent warchests held by the major tech companies are a very effective barrier for new entrants into the field. there are so many patents, many of which are way too broad or poorly written, that it can be impossible to tell if you are breaking any. At least, until the billion dollar lawsuits start coming your way. And even if you think you aren't guilty, good luck coming up with the money to fight a court battle with Apple, Qualcomm, Motorola, Samsung, etc.

Property rights and patents are important. The modern patent system is broken, and works against innovation.

Stripe, like every other high value tech company, has a patent portfolio, but it's not been used aggressively anywhere: In fact they tolerate a whole lot of what, say, the Oracle lawyers would consider IP theft.

It's not a matter of IP laws having no value, but whether the current implementation, the current costs of litigation, and how certain we can be of whether something really infringes or not, lead to positive outcomes. I think it's not hard to see how in some industries patents are absolutely essential (good luck getting anyone to invest a lot of capital in creating new soybean varieties without some kind of IP protection: The product you sell has everything you need to copy the research immediately!), but in software, given all of the above, trade secrets are probably a better compromise, especially for SaaS companies which have very little .specialized code that has to be handed to a customer.

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