This post reproduces an email I sent to Tyler Cowen a few months ago as an application to the Liberalism 2.0 Fellows. I thought it would be best to publicly state the goals I outlined in my application in order to better commit to the things I have promised.
To date, I have not received any indication as to whether my application has been accepted or rejected. Regardless, I plan on following through with these promises even if I do not get accepted. It is possible that Tyler could take advantage of this fact, but hopefully, Tyler accepts my counterfactual contract to produce more content in the areas he discusses in his post.
The following is my unedited email to Tyler Cowen as my application:
My name is Sam and I am writing a new blog Harsimony (https://harsimony.wordpress.com/) which I would like to submit for consideration to your Liberalism 2.0 Fellows contest. I thought you would like to know that though I started writing about 1 month before your announcement, the idea of applying has increased my output dramatically.
Overall, I have 3 major aims for the blog:
1. Fight for cultural norms which are key to progress: optimism, market norms, and debate.
I have initially addressed important innovations in culture needed for progress in “A List of Major, Future Innovations” (https://harsimony.wordpress.com/2020/10/31/a-list-of-major-future-innovations/). I also want to explore what we can build to instill these aspects of culture. Industrial education and optimistic science fiction seem to be an important steps towards instilling optimism. Market games such as the double auction could serve as essential educational tools to improve understanding of markets. For debate, apps like Clubhouse may provide an example of what healthy debate looks like, but how do we scale that up? I want to discuss ideas related to forum design, such as a liquid-democracy-inspired system where individuals donate their right of speech to others, raising voices which are the most representative, rather than the most angry. If you could, who would you donate your right to Tweet for the month?
2. Examine on a detailed level which technologies and innovations are worth our time.
Some innovations, such as fusion power or nanotechnology, are vastly overrated compared to their expected benefits. Some, such as drugs to reduce sleep need could have massive societal benefits. I also want to examine to what extent a motivated person should invest their career in an area of technology. Is working to build a public good better because a competitive market won’t provide it? Or do altruistic workers fix this? How much does adding an additional talented worker to an area accelerate innovation? I want to use the history of simultaneous invention (and serendipitous invention) to determine how much breakthroughs depend on a single person.
3. Spread new ideas
Ideas are essential to progress. Who cares about #1 and #2 above if we have no good thoughts about our next steps?
Two years ago, I began a process of writing down ideas which not only increased the number of ideas I have, but enhanced the quality of my thoughts as well (I have outlined the process and personal data on its effects here (https://harsimony.wordpress.com/2020/09/19/write-down-your-ideas/)). With 60000 words of condensed ideas (and counting!), I want to share some of the best ones in a more fleshed-out, thoughtful form, to find the ideas which can withstand the criticism of others.
Stepping back, I hope to focus on relatively apolitical topics and topics which are largely ignored rather than jump into existing debates. I hope that where possible, I can embed manipulable models (http://worrydream.com/Tangle/) into my writing, so that each piece not only makes a point, but becomes a tool for debate.
Here is an outline of other things I have written which are relevant to you:
I plan to write much more on the Archipelago, public goods financing mechanisms, and optimism, which I see as central to risk-taking, innovation, and openness.
Overall, my work focuses on the next steps we can make towards progress, and where it would be best to focus our efforts in order to increase long term welfare.
Regardless of the contest, I would love to hear some feedback on anything I have written so far.
Thank you for your consideration,