Progress Studies tranche of Emergent Ventures

Due to a special grant, there has been a devoted tranche of Emergent Ventures to individuals, typically scholars and public intellectuals, studying the nature and causes of progress.

Here are the winners of those awards so far:

Pseudoerasmus, for general excellence and his on-line writings on progress and development. He has donated the funds to the Economic History Society.

Alice Evans, Professor, King’s College London, for her work on social change and despondency traps, and podcasting, and general excellence.

Jason Crawford, to boost his writings and career as public intellectual on topics of progress and the benefits of economic growth and industrialism.  Here is his blog The Roots of Progress.

Tanner Greer, to help him move from Taiwan to Virginia/GMU, and to write a book on the last twenty years of U.S. history and its significance.  Here is Tanner on Twitter.

Adam Green, budding public intellectual, to study the pre-implantation genetic testing of embryos.

Ville Vesterinen, Finland, to produce podcasts and YouTube videos on the nature of progress and economic growth.

Leopold Aschenbrenner, 17 year old economics prodigy, to spend the next summer in the Bay Area and for general career development.  Here is his paper on existential risk.

Byrne Hobart, to write a book on technological progress with Tobias Huber.

Saloni Dattani and ,Sam Bowman, to set up a website on progress and progress studies, possibly a progress-related podcast.

Here is further information on the progress studies tranche of Emergent Ventures.

I’ll be announcing more winners soon, from the regular rather than the progress studies tranche of Emergent Ventures (both remain open).


Only one woman out of nine winners.

At least two by my count.

How many trans and binaries?
Everyone should be represented. Otherwise it's unfair.

life's not fair Glaucon

If you’re going to play the representation game then it becomes important to count. If trans are 0.3% of the population then you can start getting concerned after 20-50 trans-free tranches. Keep in mind that the people doing this work may not want to publicize irrelevant details about their private lives.

You can also judge this project by the quality of the work and proposals. Just a thought.

Judging by quality of work and proposal without regard to identity is unjust. Western philosophy is a series of footnotes to Plato, a well-known non-binary. What is true justice? Should all have their place in a just society, or is it preferable that a small elite of the genetically blessed should call the shots and pull the strings? Put your slide-rule and smartphone down for a minute and review your Plato, sir. There is more to a virtuous life and just society than bean counting.

Leopold: I suppose the world could be divided between optimists and pessimists, between a Leopold (a stand in for Peter Thiel) and Greta Thunberg. I listened to Thiel's Wriston Lecture last week (Cowen posted the link to the transcript yesterday), in which Thiel stated that the combination of technology and an optimistic worldview will be our salvation: don't underestimate the adverse consequences of pessimism. Taking risk, even existential risk, to advance technology is essential for long-term survival according to this view, a view shared by Cowen. Thiel claims his optimism derives from his Christianity. Ross Douthat claims that today's pessimism ("civilizational malaise") derives from falling away from God. God and the power of positive thinking. How an avowed Christian can be so optimistic is a miracle; after all, the Christ warned of the coming apocalypse and the division of mankind between the saved and the sinner. Coincidentally (?), last week's Gospel lesson was from Luke 21:8-19:

And he said, ‘Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, “I am he!” and, “The time is near!” Do not go after them. ‘When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.’ Then he said to them, ‘Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven. 'But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. 'This will give you an opportunity to testify. 'So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. 'You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. 'You will be hated by all because of my name. 'But not a hair of your head will perish. 'By your endurance you will gain your souls.'

Hologram Within a Hologram Hints at Fate of Black Holes

Holographers usually walk down a one-way street from a gravity-filled volume to a quantum flatland, where the math is easier. But in this new work, Almheiri, Maldacena and their IAS collaborators Raghu Mahajan and Ying Zhao tried strolling both ways.
They took a 2D black hole and separately considered its two elements: the matter inside it, and the gravity produced by that matter. As before, they viewed the 2D gravity as the hologram of 1D quantum particles. But they treated the black hole’s matter like the flat part of a second hologram, letting these 2D quantum particles pop into a 3D image. This strategy created an Inception-like hologram within a hologram. “It seemed like it was a really crazy thing,” Almheiri said, “but we took a chance.”
While information appeared trapped in the black hole’s interior in 2D, the researchers found that after the hologram popped off the page, portions of the black hole interior became geometrically linked to portions of the exterior, providing an escape route for information. Consequently, outgoing black hole radiation may look random to a passing astronaut doing simple experiments, Almheiri says, but rigorous study would reveal subtly hidden information — the outcome many have been hoping for.


Too llate Tyler, our emergent abstract tree theory has advanced, we have a theory of everything. Resistance is futile.
In this article they are applying two abstract trees sequentially.

What a coincidence, that is exactly how we intend to run the New Fed after our Trump Shock.

If this becomes a progress network, that seems useful. Though we know the general answer already, that innovation in general is good.

Specifically, I wonder where we should look for undiscovered practicioners of the next big thing? SV is fully funding all the things SV cares about. Open source, same. GMO is mega-corporate at this point. Drug development, same.

Progress is best when it breaks in a new direction.

Really cool list of deserving people. One comment from the peanut gallery: I find Mr. Greer most interesting when he's discussing ancient China, rather than contemporary politics.

Got to think of this with the long view. Hard to convince a publisher to go for a book of ancient China. Establish a reputation and an audience with a more topical book and there will be more freedom to take on projects like that next later.

This book is going to be good though. It’s set up is.... unique. You’ll find out more later.

It's "Byrne Hobart", not "Hobart Byrne".

What a bout a grant for people who move from Twitter to a blog?

Comments for this post are closed