What is “progress”? I attended The Atlantic’s first-ever “Progress Summit” this week hoping to get a straight answer, but, ironically, no one at the conference made any attempt to actually define the concept of progress! Perhaps progress is synonymous with economic growth, but if so, how should we balance the inevitable tradeoffs between economic and environmental goods without resorting to trite incantations or magical wands like “sustainability”? (Alas, this litmus test would have disqualified most of the invited speakers at the Progress Summit.) As it happens, the speaker who came the closest to providing a non-tautological definition of progress was Astro Teller (pictured below), the CEO of X, Google’s secretive “moonshot factory”. I will share Teller’s conception of progress in my next post.
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