Start Here: A World of Progress
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Progress: The economic, technological, and organizational advancements that gave rise to modern civilization are under threat.
Lianeon, a social enterprise dedicated to managing risk and expanding human capability, has launched Risk+Progress: A place to discuss risk, human progress, and your potential. Our mission is to educate and refine concepts that promote human progress and a better future for all.
We hold that human progress is both good and a never-ending process. To prevent decline or stagnation, we must maintain economic growth and accelerate our problem-solving capacity.
The below ideas are incomplete, likely imperfect, starting points for understanding human progress and approaching future risk. We support piloting these concepts first in pilot zones. There, experimentation and data collection can help improve these concepts or prove them wrong entirely.
It Begins With You
Like the atoms that form the building blocks of all matter in the universe, you are an indivisible, fundamental unit of humanity. Human society is reflected in you, just as your actions, thoughts, or inactions, are reflected in society.
The failure of other writers in the “progress studies” realm is to ignore the individual, the chief component of human civilization, and focus solely on humanity as a group. I will not make that mistake. There is no greater burden on humanity than unfulfilled potential. See the Reach Your Potential page for ideas and practices that explore how to unlock that potential.
Every individual brings with them unique knowledge, wisdom, and capability that they share with humanity. 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 market failures, nor stifling innovation with heavy-handed controls. In short, let markets work where they work and correct them where they don’t. Some possible routes toward achieving that end:
IP reform to avoid monopoly pricing of pharmaceuticals (discussed below)
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.
Extractive policies threaten long-term innovation and growth potential. We must do everything we can to sustain and accelerate technological advancement. Some ideas to accomplish this are:
Massive tax credits, grants, and prizes, for science and technology
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. When people live to their full potential, they can contribute more meaningfully. 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. Ideally, growth should also strive 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.
A Negative Income Tax UBI to replace inefficient welfare systems and perhaps the minimum wage.
Occupational license reform alongside regulatory streamlining
Tax economic rents (Land Value Taxes) and consumption (VAT) instead of income.
Curbing excessive housing prices through zoning reform and land taxes.
Adoption of Square Root Voting for corporate governance and new modes of executive compensation.
Eased Border Restrictions led by a market-based migration system
Pronatalist policies to prevent global depopulation
Retirement options that work for both society and the individual
Infrastructure sustainably funded through user fees and value capture
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 and is gnawing away at the foundations of civil society.
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:
Counter misinformation through critical thinking and crowd-sourcing
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:
Direct democracy through sortition possibly utilizing quadratic voting.
A proactive government structure that allows easy modification/deletion of existing law
Clean and efficient administration through an incentives-based anti-corruption approach