Historical Continuity of Progress

Methodology for discontinuous progress investigation

AI Impacts’ discontinuous progress investigation was conducted according to methodology outlined on this page. Details Contributions to the discontinuous progress investigation were made over at least 2015-2019, by a number of different people, and methods

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Continuity of progress

Historic trends in particle accelerator performance

None of particle energy, center-of-mass energy nor Lorentz factor achievable by particle accelerators appears to have undergone a discontinuity of more than ten years of progress at previous rates. Details This case study is part

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Continuity of progress

Historic trends in altitude

Altitude of objects attained by man-made means has seen six discontinuities of more than ten years of progress at previous rates since 1783, shown below. Year Height (m) Discontinuity (years) Entity 1784 4000 1032 Balloon

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Returns to scale in research

When universities or university departments produce research outputs—such as published papers—they sometimes experience increasing returns to scale, sometimes constant returns to scale, and sometimes decreasing returns to scale. At the level of nations however, R&D

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Cases of Discontinuous Technological Progress

We know of ten events which produced a robust discontinuity in progress equivalent to more than one hundred years at previous rates in some interesting metric. We know of 53 other events which produced smaller

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Continuity of progress

Effect of nuclear weapons on historic trends in explosives

Nuclear weapons constituted a ~7 thousand year discontinuity in relative effectiveness factor (TNT equivalent per kg of explosive). Nuclear weapons do not appear to have clearly represented progress in the cost-effectiveness of explosives, though the