You can see the full reading list here
, but if you’re pressed for time, I recommend this 1997 essay by John Horgan on “Why I think Science is Ending
” and Robert Gordon’s 2012 paper, “Is US Economic Growth Over?
”. These are pessimistic - and, for me, ultimately unpersuasive - arguments that we may have come to the end of a historically brief golden age in which it was reasonable to expect the future to be better than the past.
Each fortnight at the reading group we like to ask the meta-question of why Thiel assigned these readings in particular for this course (Related:
he just gave a big interview
to a German newspaper). My view is that Trump and Brexit can be read as cautionary tales of the vulnerability of our politics to just a decade of slow economic growth. If that’s true, what if Gordon is right and growth is over? Perhaps the apparently stable political institutions of western liberal democracy are just an idiosyncratic artefact of anomalous continuous economic growth. That’s not a cheery thought either.