Start Here: The Ideas Laboratory
How we can design a better world.
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Progress: The economic, technological, and organizational advancements that gave rise to modern civilization, are underappreciated and under threat.
The Lianeon Project has launched Risk+Progress, a place to discuss the risks to civilization, human progress, and the future. Together, we seek solutions that ensure the continued march of human progress and a better future.
We reject the notion that “development” has a finish line. We hold that progress is a never-ending process, and to prevent societal decline, we must maintain economic growth and double down on our problem-solving capacity (innovation).
The below ideas are incomplete, likely imperfect, starting points for new approaches to humanity’s problems. We support piloting these concepts in pilot zones first, as outlined here. There, experimentation and data collection can help tweak and improve these concepts, or prove them wrong entirely, before they are rolled out more broadly.
Every individual brings with them unique knowledge, wisdom, and capability that they share with society. Chronic illnesses and death detract from humanity’s most valuable resource: its people.
But healthcare is an incredible challenge. Prices are high, there is unequal access, and new chronic health conditions threaten to undo generations of advancements in longevity. The core challenge is simultaneously preserving innovation while constraining prices and ensuring equal access.
The solution may be to design a healthcare policy that neither blindly accepts the “free market” as a savior, ignoring obvious market failures, nor stifling innovation with heavy-handed government controls. In short, let markets work where they work and correct them where they don’t. Some possible routes toward achieving that end:
Tort reform to constrain healthcare prices
IP reform to avoid monopoly pricing of pharmaceuticals (discussed below)
Investments targeting aging, not diseases.
A sugar-sweetened beverage levy to correct the negative externalities/internalities of sweeteners.
Education, Science, and Technology
Education is our means of transferring knowledge from one generation to the next. The more efficiently we can do this, the faster we can innovate. Innovation not only underpins economic growth and human progress but the sustainability of civilization itself.
It is foolish to assume that technology, like time, is asymmetric and always moves in one direction. Technology can, and has, moved in the reverse direction. Today, extractive government policies threaten long-term innovation and growth potential, and by extension, society itself. We must do everything we can to sustain and accelerate technological advancement. Some ideas to accomplish this are:
See the tech page for a discussion of potential emerging innovations.
IP Reform through Harberger Taxes and/or Patent Buyouts Auctions
Financing higher education through Income Sharing Agreements.
Economic growth expands human opportunity and capability, and when people live to their full potential, they can contribute more meaningfully to society. But not all growth is positive. GDP, our primary measure today, fails to differentiate between positive and negative economic activity or its sustainability. We need new metrics that measure genuine progress.
History illustrates that economic growth must be inclusive for it to be sustainable while also striving to minimize environmental damage. Some of the best pathways to better and more inclusive growth are:
Free trade with possible Pigouvian exceptions.
NGDP-targeting instead of inflation-rate targeting.
Replacing taxes on production with taxes on economic rents (Land Value Taxes)
Curbing excessive housing prices through zoning reform and land taxes.
Pronatalist policies to prevent global depopulation
Retirement options that work for both society and the individual
Society is increasingly threatened by ideological extremist elements. While some disagreement is normal and healthy, the current level of social and political polarization is unsustainable.
The prevailing incentives of the media and political systems give an outsized voice to extremists, despite not speaking for the majority. To limit this extremism, some have proposed:
Promote understanding of the horseshoe theory to discourage radicalism
The inclusiveness of the economy and society’s capacity to innovate is inextricably linked to government design and policy. The more effective government is in producing sound policy, the more growth and development that will result.
There is a tendency to treat Western-style representative democratic government as the ultimate form of government. It is seen as an “end,” which began with absolute monarchs, evolved into limited monarchies, and then into modern representative democracy.
We propose that representative democracy is not an end, but another step along a path toward more effective systems. Some of those systems might be: