Progress - You are not so smart - Ep.96

Too much to listen and too little time...


My rating: ★★★★★ (5/5) 


  • 2:30 – The less you know about any given topic, the easier it is to tell a story using the few facts you know. The more you know, the messier and less narrative the picture gets. This explains journalism[1]. V.g.: The Renaissance.
  • 3:00 – Progress (economy getting better, technology getting better and society getting wealthier and more powerful) almost always brings side-effects and externalities. Periods of great glory, productivity and advances can also be distressing and apocalyptic.
  • 4:30 – Quote from a letter to Machiavelli from a friend: “you must finish your history [of Florence], because without a good history of this period future generations will never believe how bad it was and would never forgive us for destroying so much so quickly.” This was in the Renaissance.


  • 4:50 – Through a simulation (like a board game) of the Papal election of 1492 Professor Ada Palmer shows her students how a period that we consider so triumphant can also be a disastrous time to the human condition.


  •  9:20 – Each time the simulation is run some things turn out the same and some things never do. Major Powers always manage to be among the top contenders, but there is always the wild card contender. Someone who has never been in the top 3 before wins and this is unpredictable. The smallest changes can reshuffle the entire flow of events and lead to a different outcome. Tweak the variables just a little bit and history unfolds different. And in real life those variables have subvariables and so on.


  • 12:20 – Nonetheless there are boundaries to this chaos. Major Powers remain powerful, but which less powerful people gain power is always different.


  • 12:50 – The future is unknowable but within some boundaries. This relates to the experiments done by Salganik and Watts about music (Web-Based Experiments for the Study of Collective Social Dynamics in Cultural Markets, 2009; Leading the Herd Astray: An Experimental Study of Self-Fulfilling Prophecies in an Artificial Cultural Market, 2013). The songs rated poorly tended to be rated poorly in every simulation. And likewise, songs that got the best rating were never considered bad songs in any simulation. But the similarity ended here because sometimes mediocre songs made it to the top. Merit and luck are tangled.


  • 16:10 – If we re-run history, roles will stay more or less the same, but the characters playing those roles may vary.


  • 19:20 – Are we in control of the Future? The answer is not completely but a little bit. Both, giant inevitable forces and individual human agents determine the course of events.


  • 32:15 – The concept of progress in history.


  • 35:50 – Is progress inevitable? Change and change in moral values are inevitable.


  • 37:00 – The future we build is not going to be somewhere where anyone who is alive today will be comfortable because the moral systems that we have right now are going to be way passed by people in the future.

  • 38:35 – What are some of the problems or caveats with thinking about history in a teleological way? When you believe is inevitable then you lose sight of the fact that it is only achieve by human action.


  • 46:30 – How our modern notion of progress differs from the notion of the past?


  • 47:20 – According to Francis Bacon, scholars and wise man are all like three insects: ants (gather info without using it); spiders (theories that don't reflect reality); honeybees (gather info from reality and then digest it and process it in order to create something that is good and useful for the mankind).


  • 49:00 – Francis Bacon framed science as a religious duty.


  • 51:51 – Can we create the future we want to live in? We have the power to work toward changes. We have the power to take steps that will make the changes we aim at much more likely. We don't have the power to anticipate all of the secondary consequences of those actions and changes and to control them.


  • 53:35 – An example of secondary consequences is Cholera being spread by bad sanitation, and then we worked on sanitation to end the cholera epidemics. But then we had the Polio epidemic because Polio was made stronger by sanitation. We can't predict secondary consequences but we are getting better at dealing with them and anticipate some of them.


  • 55:45 – Big pushes of progress bring enormous benefits along with several and strong secondary consequences and externalities. But then we work to try to end those side effects and prevent new ones.


  • 57:45 – Why we need regulation and safety features?


Listen to it: 






¡Sé el primero en comentar!

Cookies en

Utilizamos cookies propias y de terceros con finalidades analíticas y para mostrarte publicidad relacionada con tus preferencias a partir de tus hábitos de navegación y tu perfil. Puedes configurar o rechazar las cookies haciendo click en “Configuración de cookies”. También puedes aceptar todas las cookies pulsando el botón “Aceptar”. Para más información puedes visitar nuestra política de cookies.