All great points! AIs might be able to augment and accelerate the rate of innovation and the creation of new ideas, but unless the machines themselves will also consume the fruits of those ideas as we humans do, there are limits to how much AIs can accelerate economic growth.

Production and scale are very underappreciated in the context of innovation. Many products today have high initial capital investment requirements and low marginal costs. Without a sufficient market (i.e. a shrinking population) market saturation will eventually reach a point where that initial investment is no longer justified. I touched on this in an essay some while back: https://www.lianeon.org/p/we-dont-have-enough-people

Also underappreciated is the synergy between production and innovation. Producing and selling a product illustrates ways that it can be improved in a synergistic feedback loop. If we are just producing more and more things without sufficient consumers to “test” them, we are not innovating as quickly as we could, thus running into diminishing returns that will inevitably prevent ‘explosive’ growth.

I am adding this piece to my “Recommended Reads” section at Risk & Progress, fantastic work.

Expand full comment

Fantastic essay, bookmarking this one.

Expand full comment

You deserve more reader comments, S.H.

On related themes . . . Matters of unlimited growth, the impossibility thereof, addressed towards the end. More specifically . . .

The long and rich history of the contemporary genocides of the cultured, cultivated Europeans, The Americans and the Brits., to nominate yet a few. Arising from hitherto unlimited growth in just one sub-species against finite resources.

And first, of Washington's lost Ukrainian Proxy War to weaken Russia and pillage its resources, perhaps the greatest and most feckless imperial play, a resource play - something of a progress update.


Free to subscribe . . . The Dead Do Not Die.


Expand full comment