Saturday, October 01, 2022

1: जसपा

We Know Shockingly Little About What Makes Humanity Prosper Patrick Collison calls for a new “science of progress.” ....... Swiss nationals have won more than 10 times more science Nobels per capita than Italians have. 10 times. And yet, they’re neighbors. And Italy certainly isn’t lacking in scientific tradition — Fermi, Galileo, the oldest university in Europe, et cetera. The ‘how’ of science just really matters.” ....... At the beginning of the 20th century, not only was the U.S. not a scientific powerhouse, but it barely had a presence in frontier research, whatsoever. ....... To become a credible researcher in the U.S. in 1900, you almost certainly had to go and spend time in, most likely, Germany, and failing that, in France or England ........ Harvard was hundreds of years old by that time ....... When James Conant, who was later president of Harvard for 20 years — when he went to Germany as a chemist, which was his original training, in the 1920s, he recounts how dispirited he was by what he found there and how far ahead of Harvard German research was, as of the early 20th century. ........... by the latter half of the 20th century, the U.S. was the unquestioned leader at the frontier of scientific progress. ......... maybe the 19th century, it was Germany. ........... Before that, in the 18th century, it was plausibly France. ........ the transmission of research culture by individual researchers matters a great deal. ....... you see these pockets of excellence really produce these outsized returns ........ the research culture set by specific people and the tacit knowledge transmitted through direct experience is probably the number-one thing. ....... America had a great 20th century, but its institutions have become sclerotic, and we’ve slowed down, and everything is piled in lawsuits and review boards now ...... We’re getting a lot of peer-reviewed research out of China — huge number of citations out of China. We’re not seeing them dominate the big breakthrough advances of the era. .......... some of these labs that are doing it right, some of these places that haven’t piled on a little bit too much bureaucracy ......... successful cultures are a pretty narrow path. Homo sapiens emerged 200,000 years ago. ........ for the first 190,000 years of our genesis, we think we were largely biologically equivalent to the people we are today. But as best we can tell, there was some kind of cultural capital that those people lacked for a very extended period of time before human societies in somewhat recognizable modern form started to emerge — agriculture, all the rest. .......... What we have is very precious. ......... progress is very narrow, that it is a very narrow bridge that we have walked on for a very short period of time. ........ You have a lot of periods of war when you have very, very, very rapid technological progress, but it happens in context of much more martial societies. ........ And I don’t know that the 18th century in the U.K. is some ideal as a society. But if you compare it to the 16th century in the U.K., the ideals and ideas of natural rights and religious tolerance and so on — they were somewhat better embodied by the 18th century than they had just a couple of centuries previously. ....... And I think it’s not a coincidence that Adam Smith — his first book, of course, was on ethics and morals and trying to instill better general ideals and behaviors across a society. .......... And maybe after that, he then argued for and laid many of the foundations of what we would recognize as modern economics. .......... There wasn’t an obvious climatic or natural resource endowment that England benefited from that was lacking in Ireland or Scotland. ....... It wasn’t like England was actually a vastly larger polity. ........ It really does seem to me that differences in the mind-set and in the culture are where you have to net out. ........ in this period, this mind-set that we can increase the store of usable knowledge, and then use it to alter nature, to better the human condition, takes hold. ........ particularly the republic of letters, the way people are writing letters back and forth, kind of combine into a culture that is able to grow. .......... Mokyr really believes — that there is a communications infrastructure that arises at that time, that has a kind of culture of generosity and argument and honesty in it, and is built on writing letters slowly to one another, and then copying those letters over to other people. .......... And that culture is really good for intellectual advancement. I think one of the promises of the internet and the age we live in is, it’s all faster. We can write to people immediately. Things we write can go viral and be seen by 5 million people all of a sudden. ....... it’s almost certainly a tremendously large gain that billions of people now have access to educational materials. And some of the otherwise hard-to-communicate tacit knowledge — that things like YouTube videos now made legible and available. ........ the sort of reaction surface area has increased substantially by the internet there and represents a kind of efficiency gain for people looking to exchange in ideas ....... Many of the companies that Stripe works with are remote companies, and they might employ people across myriad countries, and that’s a kind of communication and efficiency gain that would certainly not otherwise be achievable. .......... the total amount of stuff happening, or the increasing amount of stuff happening, is so much larger now than it was 100 or 200 or 300 years ago. ......... we should give superior communication technologies and faster communication technologies a significant amount of credit ......... Communication is how we collaborate. ...... 54 percent of teenage girls now report persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness. ....... and that number is up from being in the 20s as recently as 2009. ....... 1/2 the population now is either prediabetic or diabetic ......... the way the Industrial Revolution, for an extended period of time, seems to have reduced a lot of people’s living standards. And it wasn’t till later you had changes in redistribution in labor unions and labor protections that the amount of material prosperity that was generating created more broad-based prosperity ........ The world simply has too little prosperity. .......... try to assess what’s the sentiment of people in Poland, what’s the sentiment of people in India, or what’s the sentiment of people in Indonesia, they view the internet extremely positively. ......... I’ve met people who are trying to automate a bunch of legal contracts. It makes a ton of sense. People pay a lot all over the country — to some degree, all over the world — to get fairly basic legal contracts drawn up — wills and real estate documents and merger agreements and all kinds of — from the small to the large. ........ So graphic design, in all kinds of areas of the country — midlevel graphic designers get paid to make logos for local businesses. ........ It’s pretty clear they’re going to be able to do that really, really easily on things like DALL-E pretty fast. So you can imagine a lot of that area getting wiped out. ....... we can contemplate, where there are only three A.I. models, and they are rooted in the hegemons, the citadels of Silicon Valley technology, and we all are digital serfs who are subsistence-farming on their gains. ........ And they recently released a GitHub copilot-like technology, where it will kind of autocomplete your code in the editor, and where you can do some pretty cool things. Like, you can highlight a block of code and ask it to be explained, and it’ll turn code into natural language, into English, and say, hey, here’s what this code is doing. ........ in early computer games, the first games were built by a single heroic person, and now, it’s these gigantic studios and enormous CapEx budgets. ........ productivity gains we often attribute to the Second World War in the U.S. — like, those foundations actually were laid in the ‘30s, and then the first half of the ‘40s were a period of decreasing productivity as we massively, inefficiently reallocated our economic resources for the purposes of winning the war, which was probably a good thing to do, but inefficient in narrow economic terms . ........... the Apollo Project was unpopular. It was not something that commanded wide popular support. .......... If you take Darpa as an example, it started as Arpa, as a more open-ended research institution and set of programs, and then with the Vietnam War, had the D pretended to it. ...... And the internet, which arose under Arpa — it’s hard to think of innovations of similar magnitudes that then occurred in then-Darpa’s subsequent, say, two decades. .......... And if you think about the things that we’re maybe happiest about having happened — the founding of the major new U.S. research universities in the latter parts of the 19th century or the revolution in health care and kind of medical practice that first happened at Johns Hopkins, and then kind of codified in the Flexner Report, or the great industrial research labs of Bell and Park and so on — or excuse me — Xerox — they didn’t obviously come from a place of fear or a threat. They came from a place of hope and optimism and opportunity. .

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