Tyler Cowen and Patrick Collison have a thing about the speed of scientific progress, and progress and innovation in general. They say the pace of innovation as slowed down my quite a bit, and that even if it has only slowed down by a percentage point per year, this is incredibly bad for humanity in the long run. You can listen to them talk about it together here, or read Cowen’s Stubborn Attachments to get a sense of his long-view of the future (our grandchildren and the world they live in should be very important to us, and we should take small but compounding changes in things like the rate of progress and economic growth and environmental destruction very seriously indeed).
In the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, with conventional funding methods looking far to slow to respond, Cowen and Collison had a chat about the idea of making super-fast grants and “within a matter of hours” decided to do it. (Cowen has a record of similar red-tape free grantmaking at Emergent Ventures). And they did it. And FastGrants has made a significant difference.
I think it’s great – great that they made the decision and have played a role in the development of several important technologies in the fight against Covid-19, and great to see these guys put their effort and their money where their collective mouth is, taking decisive action and making stuff happen – fast.
You get the feeling that the response to Covid is just the start.
Video below. More at FastGrants.org, on Marginal Revolution for as-it-happened blog posts about FastGrants, and under “Fast” on Patrick Collison’s blog. All recommended.