The Roots of Progress

Pandemics and progress

I’ve published an opinion piece about COVID-19, pandemics, and progress in Leapsmag for for World Health Day. The opening:

With a deadly pandemic sweeping the planet, many are questioning the comfort and security we have taken for granted in the modern world.

A century ago, when an influenza pandemic struck, we barely knew what viruses were. More than a century after the germ theory, we are still at the mercy of a microbe we can neither treat, nor control, nor immunize against. Even more discouraging is that technology has in some ways exacerbated the problem: cars and air travel allow a new disease to quickly encompass the globe.

Some say we have grown complacent, that we falsely assume the triumphs of the past ensure a happy and prosperous future, that we are oblivious to the possibility of unpredictable “black swan” events that could cause our destruction. Some have begun to lose confidence in progress itself, and despair of the future.

But the new coronavirus should not defeat our spirit—if anything, it should spur us to redouble our efforts, both in the science and technology of medicine, and more broadly in the advance of industry. Because the best way to protect ourselves against future disasters is more progress, faster.

Read in full: “More Progress, Faster, Is Our Best Defense Against This Pandemic and Future Ones

Comment on Reddit or debate me on Letter.

Get posts by email:
Become a patron

Get posts by email