The Roots of Progress


The Roots of Progress is a website about the history of technology and industry, and the philosophy of human progress.

It was founded on the conviction that the story of progress is important and underappreciated, and deserves to be studied.


I am Jason Crawford, a former software engineering manager and tech startup founder.


I started this site in 2017. After writing it part-time for over two years, I went full-time in October 2019.


My work is or has been funded by grants from Emergent Ventures, Open Philanthropy, the Long-Term Future Fund, and Jaan Tallinn (via the Survival and Flourishing Fund).

I consult part-time on technology with Our World in Data, a fantastic resource for anyone who wants to understand the history and trends in global living standards.

As of May 2020, I’ve also been working with Higher Ground Education to create the program Progress Studies for Young Scholars.

I sometimes accept paid writing and speaking gigs.

Finally, I have a Patreon. Thanks to my supporters at the “Edison” level and above (for May 2021):

Adam Wiggins, Andrej Karpathy, Andrew Coyle, Axel Ericsson, B Srinivasan, Beauty Skittle, Ben Springwater, Benjamin Bernard, Catherine Dickerson, Coleman Foley, Damon Yeargain, David Samuelson, Edward Pierzchalski, Evan Putra Limanto, Frederic Bastiat, Grady Simon, Greg Salmieri, Jared, Jason Gritman, Jeff Ellerbee, Jeff Ridpath, Jeffrey Polhemus, Jeremy, John Beatty, Jonathan Hoenig, Konstantin Levinski, Leo Polovets, Marcus Hartwig, Margaret Malewski, Mark Wickens, Matheus Carvalho, Matt Monihan, Mauricio Coen, Max Gillett, Michael McCormick, Michael Williams, Paul Oreto, Randal Vegter, Riva Tez, Sang Uh Han, Scott Alexander, Sean Linehan, Sean Saito, Susan Crawford, Thomas Walczak, Tim Disney, Tom Bowden, Tommy Collison, Trevor Blackwell, Trey Knighton, Vignan Velivela, and Yedidya Feldblum.


Questions or feedback? Email me: