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a16z Podcast | Knowledge Builds Technology and Technology Builds Knowledge -- with Joel Mokyr

297 views|5 years ago
💫 Short Summary

The video explores the Industrial Revolution, emphasizing technological advancements like the steam engine and the importance of collaboration in knowledge creation. It discusses the impact of the internet on knowledge dissemination and the role of institutions in shaping behavior. The emergence of virtual communities and weak ties driving innovation is compared to historical networks like the Republic of Letters. Success in science and technology requires focus and collaboration across fields, leading to major advancements like the eradication of smallpox. The importance of addressing global challenges through innovation and progress is highlighted, with a focus on the unintended consequences of technological advancements and the need for continuous innovation to drive growth.

✨ Highlights
📊 Transcript
Highlights of the Industrial Revolution and its driving forces.
Thomas Newcomen introduced the steam engine in 1712.
Importance of understanding concepts like vacuums for technological progress.
Synergy between knowledge and technology as a key driver of modern economic growth.
History of atmospheric engines and the shift in beliefs about vacuums from denial to acceptance.
The age of contestability and skepticism in knowledge creation.
This era challenges established knowledge through evidence and logic.
Collaboration and trust are crucial for pushing forward ideas.
Knowledge creation was primarily individual-based with little collaboration.
The Republic of Letters in Europe facilitated knowledge circulation and intellectual growth.
The Importance of Trust and Vetting in a Network of Corresponding Authors.
Trust is established through the vetting process by experts to ensure the quality of published work.
The segment highlights a more civil time when philosophical debates were conducted respectfully.
The concept of authorship and the importance of effectively selling ideas in the market of ideas is emphasized.
Examples of priority fights in history are discussed, emphasizing the significance of execution and market impact over mere discovery.
The importance of competition, transparency, and reputation in driving better results in markets.
Reputation plays a crucial role in gaining credibility and patronage, especially in academic and online settings.
The concept of a meritocracy of ideas and creativity is essential in building a reputation.
The internet has democratized the creation of knowledge, allowing unknown individuals to establish credibility in unique ways.
Despite the internet's impact on knowledge production, a small number of individuals from prestigious institutions still drive significant advances.
Impact of Internet on Knowledge Production
Speaker emphasizes the speed and accessibility of information in the current age.
Internet breaks down borders and barriers for businesses and entrepreneurs on a global scale.
Institutions play a role in shaping behavior and rules in the marketplace of ideas.
Recognition of the significant shift brought about by technology and the need to adapt to the evolving landscape of knowledge dissemination.
The impact of the Republic of Letters on innovation during the Industrial Revolution.
The Republic of Letters was a virtual community that fostered the exchange of ideas and creativity.
This virtual community led to technological advancements in fields like electricity, textiles, and transportation.
The interaction and sharing of ideas within online communities were crucial drivers of the Industrial Revolution.
The concept of weak ties versus strong ties and exploiting structural holes in networks were significant enablers of innovation during that time and continue to be important today.
Importance of interdisciplinary collaboration in driving progress in various fields.
Slow transportation in the Republic of Letters led to weak ties but allowed for valuable knowledge exchange.
Major advancements often occur at the margins when combining fields or transplanting knowledge.
Examples include the Newtonian and Einsteinian revolutions, as well as deep learning in computer science.
Progress requires stepping outside incremental advancements and making quantum leaps.
Importance of collaboration and focus in scientific advancements.
Breakthroughs such as solving the issue of longitude or eradicating smallpox require time and effort.
Society's collective minds working together lead to significant advancements in science and technology.
Historical examples like Project Manhattan highlight the importance of urgency and collaboration in achieving monumental scientific achievements.
The importance of focusing on solutions for climate change and global issues.
Private sector innovation, such as Mars exploration, demonstrates human ingenuity.
Historical examples like the Black Death and hot-air balloons show humanity's ability to overcome challenges.
Emphasis on the need for innovation and progress in addressing global issues.
Highlighting the importance of not finding scapegoats but working towards solutions.
The importance of continuous innovation in technology.
Unintended consequences are common in technological advancements.
Stagnation in technology can lead to falling behind in global competition.
The contrast between the West's progress through innovation and China's stagnation during a specific period.
Halting innovation can result in missed opportunities for growth and development.
Concerns regarding technological advancements and resistance to genetically modified organisms.
Emphasis on the unpredictability of outcomes and the growth-stagnation dilemma.
Changing nature of progress measurement and debates around GDP calculation.
Impact of product innovation on economic growth and challenges in measuring productivity and inflation.
Influx of new, low-cost products complicating income accounting and questioning the valuation of such items in national income accounts.
Hidden Costs of Transactions in GDP Calculation
Wikipedia's contribution to GDP is not accounted for due to its free access to users.
Online shopping reduces transaction costs by saving time and resources, enhancing the consumer experience.
Personal examples are shared, such as buying shoes online to avoid the inconvenience of physical store shopping.
Technological advancements, like online activities, have a significant impact on reducing transaction costs, yet are not reflected in national income calculations.
Importance of Variety in Economic Measurements
GDP calculations do not capture the value of variety provided by platforms like Spotify.
Technological advancements have increased access to leisure activities, such as sports spectacles.
Technology has significantly improved people's lives by enhancing satisfaction and enjoyment.
It is crucial to consider the impact of technology on national income accounting and prioritize science and technology in addressing new challenges like melting ice caps.