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 currently funded by donors including Patrick and John Collison, Anil and Sunil Varanasi, Adam Wiggins, Jed McCaleb, and Jaan Tallinn (the last two via the Survival and Flourishing Fund). In the past, I’ve also received grants from the Long-Term Future Fund, Open Philanthropy, and Emergent Ventures.

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.

In 2020–21, I also worked 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 July 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 Ridpath, Jeffrey Polhemus, Jeremy, John Beatty, Jonathan Hoenig, Konstantin Levinski, Leo Polovets, Marcus Hartwig, Margaret Malewski, Mark Wickens, Matheus Carvalho, Matt Bateman, Matt Monihan, Mauricio Coen, Max Gillett, Michael McCormick, Michael Williams, Paul Oreto, Randal Vegter, Sang Uh Han, Scott Alexander, Sean Linehan, Sean Saito, Streydand, Susan Crawford, Thomas Walczak, Tim Disney, Tommy Collison, Trevor Blackwell, Trey Knighton, Vignan Velivela, Warp Institute, and Yedidya Feldblum.


Questions or feedback? Email me: