The Roots of Progress

The Roots of Progress is now a nonprofit organization

I’m excited to announce that The Roots of Progress is now a nonprofit organization.

The Roots of Progress started in 2017 as a side project, not much more than a blog. After Tyler Cowen and Patrick Collison published their call for “progress studies”, and the progress community started to form, it became my full-time job. For the first year or so I was an independent writer, supported by grants. Now I have enough support not only to fund myself, but also to hire help and sponsor programs. The new nonprofit organization is the vehicle for this.

The mission of The Roots of Progress is to establish a new philosophy of progress for the twenty-first century. The world needs a clearer understanding of the nature of progress, its causes, its value and importance, how we can manage its costs and risks, and ultimately how we can accelerate progress while ensuring that it is beneficial to humanity.

My focus now is on two priorities. First is the intellectual content, the history and philosophy of progress itself. I’m writing a book on this topic, The Story of Industrial Civilization, and the new organization is sponsoring this work. But much more is needed: more books, articles, talks, journals, documentaries. We need more histories of different aspects of progress, to make the story accessible to a broader audience. We need progress-oriented solutions to the problems facing the world, such as poverty, climate, pollution, job loss, and pandemics. And we need an ambitious, inspiring vision of the future, of where progress can take us. If you’d like to write on any of these topics, get in touch.

My second priority is building out and strengthening the progress network and community. Stay tuned for announcements here.

For advice and governance, I’ve formed a board of directors. The people I invited, while not in the limelight of the progress community, have been some of my strongest supporters: Ray Girn, CEO of Higher Ground Education (which commissioned my high school progress course), and Anil Varanasi, CEO of Meter. Patrick Collison and Tyler Cowen are serving as advisers (as they have informally, ever since I was considering going full-time).

Our first-year fundraising goal is $500,000, and thanks to generous donations from Patrick and John Collison among others, we’re already more than halfway to that goal. You can support us through Patreon, or get in touch to talk about a larger or one-time contribution. (We’ve filed for IRS recognition of our status as a 501(c)(3) public educational charity. In the US, donations to such organizations are tax-deductible. The recognition is expected later in 2021, and will be retroactive to our founding in May. [UPDATE October 2021: We have now received this recognition.])

The Roots of Progress is working towards a world in which the idea of progress is communicated through education and journalism, creating industrial literacy among the public. A world with a positive vision of the future, embodied in optimistic sci-fi and new World’s Fairs. A world where young people see progress as a meaningful career, and where new organizations for science, research and development give them the career paths they need to build the future.

Thank you for joining us on this journey!

Comment: Reddit, LessWrong

Social media link image credit: Wikimedia / Daniel Oberhaus

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