The Roots of Progress Institute

A new philosophy of progress for the 21st century

Why study progress? The progress of the last few centuries—in science, technology, industry, and the economy—is one of the greatest achievements of humanity. But progress is not automatic or inevitable. We must understand its causes so that we can keep it going, and even accelerate it.

We need a new philosophy of progress. In order to make progress, we must believe that it is possible and desirable. The 19th century believed in the power of technology and industry to better humanity, but in the 20th century, this belief gave way to skepticism and distrust.

We need a new way forward. We need a systematic study of progress, so we can understand what is needed to keep progress going. We also need to advocate for progress. We need a progress movement that both explains and champions these ideas and puts forth a vision that inspires us to build.

Read more about the progress movement

Progress Conference 2024

A two-day event to connect people & ideas in the progress movement

Presented by the Roots of Progress, together with the Foresight Institute, Works in Progress, the Institute for Progress, HumanProgress.org, and the Institute for Humane Studies

October 18–19, 2024 in Berkeley, California

Meet great people • Catalyze new projects • Share ideas • Be energized & inspired

The progress movement has grown a lot in the last few years: we have progress journals, think tanks, and fellowships. What we haven't had so far is a regular gathering of the community. Introducing the first annual progress conference:

  • ~200 vetted attendees: writers, builders, policy makers, storytellers, and students
  • Speakers including Patrick Collison, Tyler Cowen, Steven Pinker, and Virginia Postrel
  • Hosted at the Lighthaven Campus in Berkeley — plenty of space for informal 1:1s and small-group conversations

Attend talks on topics from tech to policy to culture, get to know other attendees as you hang out on cozy sofas or enjoy the sun in the garden, sign up to run an unconference session and find others who share your interests and passions, or pitch your ideas to those who could help make your dreams a reality.

Learn more and apply for an invitation

The Roots of Progress Fellowship is a career accelerator program to empower intellectual entrepreneurs for progress.

Learn more

Our goal is to empower writers who want to make a career out of explaining progress to a large, general audience. Ultimately, we will help these intellectuals achieve two ambitious goals:

  1. Be able to sustain themselves as full-time progress intellectuals after this 2–4 year program, by developing a personal brand and sources of revenue to support their work, and
  2. Write a book or create an equivalent, thematically unified body of work (e.g., a series of essays or blog posts, a scripted podcast series, or a multi-episode documentary) that brings an important topic in progress studies to a general audience.

This is a strategy for the age of online media. In the Internet age, the writer is the brand, and the best writers are going independent. Instead of hiring staff researchers to write under our brand, The Roots of Progress helps writers build individual brands. Because these writers are independent, they’ll have the intellectual freedom to say what they think, without toeing a party line: we want to foster a culture of debate within the broad principles of progress, humanism, and agency that are the core of the progress movement. This is a high-leverage play: we invest in people for a limited time and their work pays dividends for progress (and for themselves) for years to come.

Learn more about the 2024 fellowship

Meet our fellows

Essays & Talks

Interview: 
A new philosophy of progress

In the 1960s, people looked forward to a “Jetsons” future of flying cars, robots, and nuclear power; today they at best hope to stave off disasters such as pandemics and climate change. What happened to the idea of progress? How do we regain our sense of agency? And how do we move forward, in the 21st century and beyond?
Interviews & Talks
Philosophy of progress
Progress, humanism,
agency
An intellectual core for the progress movement
We need a new philosophy of progress
The 19th century believed in progress; the 20th century grew skeptical. We need a new way forward
Progress studies as a moral imperative
Progress is real and important, but it is not automatic or inevitable. We must understand its causes, so that we can protect them and reinforce them

Announcements

The Techno-Humanist Manifesto
A book presenting a new philosophy of progress for the 21st century
Progress Conference 2024: Toward Abundant Futures
A two-day event to connect people in the progress movement: Berkeley Oct 18–19
We are now the Roots of Progress Institute (RPI)
The new name represents the new identity we took on ever since we announced our first program last year

Press

Reason magazine:
Progress, Rediscovered

A new movement promoting scientific, technological, and economic solutions to humanity's problems emerges.

The thinker fueling the growing progress studies movement.

A growing and influential intellectual movement aims to understand why human progress happens – and how to speed it up. Garrison Lovely investigates.

Support

You can support us monthly through Patreon:

For a one-time donation, we take PayPal. Or get in touch to talk about 
a larger contribution or other payment methods.

We are a 501(c)(3) public educational charity; in the US, donations to 
such organizations are tax-deductible.

More details here