Reverse salients

Edison thought in terms of reverse salients and critical problems.

“Reverse salients are areas of research and development that are lagging in some obvious way behind the general line of advance. Critical problems are the research questions, cast in terms of the concrete particulars of currently available knowledge and technique and of specific exemplars or models that are solvable and whose solutions would eliminate the reverse salients. ”

What strikes you as as important current  example of a reverse salient, and the associated critical problem or problems?





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105 Responses to Reverse salients

  1. James Thompson says:

    Specifying exactly what aspects of an environment actually reduce intelligence, other than events which simply make people ill.

    • Peripatetic Commenter says:

      I think we all understand that if your environment allows you and yours to get by with less brain power (intelligence) then selection will select for less brain power.

      Perhaps the question should be: What level/aspect of social complexity selects for more intelligence?

      Is it just the sheer number of people you have to interact with or is it the regulations enacted when you reach a critical size and what is that critical size?

    • Steve Sailer says:

      So we could take PGS scores predicting educational attainment and look for post-conception events and conditions that correlate with less educational attainment than one’s genes would forecast? Sounds pretty doable.

      We now have a bunch of longitudinal studies, NLSY 79 & 97, Dunedin, Wisconsin, Framingham, Scottish, etc etc. We can go get the DNA of old participants and use it to estimate their educational attainment based on their genetics, then compare it to their test scores when young, to see if their unexpectedly low educational attainment had already manifested itself in lower test scores, or did something happen later on in life.

  2. Basil Marte says:

    Not a salient (sorry) but a random thought: in a “deleted scene” of the 10,000 year explosion, fear of women in cad societies is described. I think a good bit of that can be mirrored to describe contemporary feminism.
    “…men know that women are dangerous, that they sap the energy, strength, and will of males, and that attraction to women has to be avoided. […]
    story that is found all over the Americas that long ago women ruled society until the men staged a revolt and took control. The male superiority and control is fragile and has to be maintained carefully with certain rituals […]
    War chiefs were heroes, celebrated for their bravery and warrior spirit. Everyone praised and admired them. This public adulation was obtained, however, at the cost of fitness, since war chiefs were celibate.”
    We have the base belief, the legend of the Patriarchy, the claim of fragility, the celibate Successful Woman role model. I don’t yet see what the rituals are.

  3. protokol2020 says:

    Everything decreases intelligence. Unless the intelligence you have can pay its rent. Just like as with the eyesight. It’s better to be blind inside caves than to maintain and feed the complicated eyes there. Therefore those creatures who are always in the dark soon lose their eyes. Evolution is quick there.

    The same with the intelligence. Whenever a bit less intelligence is equally good, you are going to lose it. Evolution is swift here.

    • protokol2020 says:

      @James Thompson’s comment/question.

    • I read about breeding fruit flies it total darkness, and they did not lose eyes despite…. 50 years? (sorry I don’t know exact details)

      • protokol2020 says:

        Maybe not that swift. Report again about that in 100 years time.

      • reziac says:

        No matter how long your species is stuck in that cave, a gene for eyelessness (a mutation, a chance coupling of ‘bad’ genes, or a gene that can be turned off) has to occur before there can be selection for lost eyes. A chance defect can rapidly saturate a closed gene pool (frex, a cave population) if there’s no selection against it, or perhaps a slight favoring, and if the defect is recessive, once it’s total there’s no going back.

        WAG: such alterations are more likely to occur in a gene pool that still contains a lot of relatively recent acquired DNA (basically potential for random expression because gods know what junk is in the latest absorbed virus’ DNA), but are less likely in gene pools where there’s already been a long history of selection against random expression. Which is why we see eyeless fish, but not eyeless bats.

        And since I was vaguely recalling some research about turning on/off genes for eyelessness, I went off and found this (apparently the gene for eyelessness is very old):

        TL;DR: “Here is the rub: the switching off of eye development seems to be epigenetic and heritable. It does not come from selection against the genes that promote eye development. It comes about from a heritable physiological response to food scarcity.”

        • Logical says:

          Denis Noble is a clueless idiot. Try not to quote such people unless you want to look like an idiot.

    • demigord says:

      I don’t know why you guys are responding to Thompson as if he was taking about evolution. The mention of illness should have tipped you off that he wasn’t

  4. J says:

    We could use a more efficient centrifugal pump. There was no significant improvement in the last hundred years.

    • bob sykes says:

      The best large centrifugal pumps achieve 90% efficiency, but small pumps often achieve only 50% efficiency. Gas turbines are generally lower. Considering the wide spread use of gas turbines as jet engines and backup generators, I should think there would be a bigger payoff in turbines. But it hard to imagine that anyone works harder on researching them than companies like General Electric, Rolls Royce, et al.

      • Gord Marsden says:

        Gas turbines are close to max efficiency with secondary recovery stages behind. For Jet engines maximum thrust surplants low and slow efficiency

  5. Morris39 says:

    The organizational principle of the human organism.We know much is autonomic (e.g, metabolism, immune system etc) but probably much more is unknown. Relationship of the brain to the total “system” is a possible reverse salient worthy of study. There seems to be some confusion here as somehow it is claimed that a part (brain) determines/supersedes the whole. Particularly prevalent among academics.

  6. thesoftpath says:

    How to address the problem of large-scale technological unemployment strikes me as a reverse salient. John Maynard Keynes prophesied a 15 hour week but we don’t hear anything like that nowadays? Why not?

    • Basil Marte says:

      1) High fixed/sunk cost of human capital, both general (“X is an electrical engineer”) and specific (“X is familiar with the particular system/project”) leads to economies of scale.
      2) People would rather work 40-ish hours/week and Keep Up With The Joneses than 15 h/week and be left with lower social status.

      • R. says:

        I doubt people are that conformist. But given the fixed cost of employing people and other problems, lower hour workweeks don’t seem to be practical.

    • ap says:

      I remember that in the sixties a common journalistic trope was the danger of automation destroying jobs. It seems to me that since then a tremendous effort has been made to create useless paper pushing jobs. Examples would be the huge increase in higher education, the administrative bloat in universities, huge increases in the size of government, etc.

      To keep us busy, new hells were invented.

  7. dearieme says:

    A reverse salient is dementia, Alzheimer’s in particular. The critical problem is “if amyloid plaques aren’t the cause, what is?”.

    Another RS is CVD. If the cause of the epidemic of CVD in middle-aged men, starting about 1920 and peaking about 1970, was an infection, what was the infective agent?

    Could Alzheimer’s be infective? Search me. How about MS, Leukaemia, …?

    • reziac says:

      Cardiovascular disease is largely a consequence of low thyroid. Thyroid declines with age, usually starting about age 50, but the effects take 10-15 years to become fatal. Naturally as we got more people living longer, we started seeing more CVD. And a host of other chronic issues that likewise have a root cause of declining thyroid, but doctors rarely pursue that, and instead treat the symptoms. (Despite reams of research.) Or if they do, they only test TSH, which usually means the patient receiving thyroid replacement winds up underdosed.

      This was exacerbated by the switch from lard to soybean oil, and worse, the incorporation of flaxseed products. Why? high phytoestrogen content. Phytoestrogen is a thyroid inhibitor. Also, aspartame: long suspected as a thyroid inhibitor; recent research showed that it can cause irreversible destruction of thyroid tissue.

      [Restraining self from ranting for about 30 pages, which I can do at the drop of a hat. I read the research, because doctors don’t.]

    • R. says:

      Amyloid plaques are the proximate cause of dementia. Ultimately, iirc, wasn’t it recently found out that the plaques are a reaction of the immune system to a specific viral infection?

  8. Friendly Fred says:

    Uncle Toby in TRISTRAM SHANDY would probably perk up at the mention of “reverse salients.”

  9. kpkinsunnyphiladelphia says:

    Two where progress has been very slow.
    1) Battery technology, specifically battery power and battery life.
    2) Fusion energy. A holy grail of abundant energy.

    • protokol2020 says:

      The energy density in gasoline is much greater than in any conceivable chemical battery. We need a Zippo size gasoline storage for our mobile phones and some good way to convert THAT energy to electricity for our mobiles. And not some batteries for our cars. Batteries are a dead branch anyway.

      We don’t have fusion. we have fission. But we are neglecting it. Who says we will embrace fusion? Some same “ecological reasons” against it may pop up.

      • jb says:

        I’d prefer ethanol to gasoline. Lower energy density, but much less noxious. (Of course, as long as we’re fantasizing here, why not a technology that can be adapted to deal with either?)

        • J says:

          An efficient fuel cell would be a change. But the area is not “reverse salient” as much research is being done.

        • protokol2020 says:

          A hydrocarbon or anything similar would do much better than any possible “battery” could. Also because the oxidant is in the surrounding atmosphere and this oxidant represents the bulk of the mass needed for the energy milking. A big advantage over “chemical batteries”, and not the only one.

          The only good battery would be a nuclear battery running on some beta decay.

  10. just a lurker says:

    The science and art of manipulating, brainwashing, fooling and bamboozling people achieved near perfection, while methods of teaching and encouraging rationality, sanity and common sense are still in the stone age. This is not surprising, there is no demand and no money in making people more rational.

    • Esso says:

      Critical problem: getting Oprah’s endorsement for Hanson & Simler.

    • Rosenmops says:

      I think people are either born with the ability to reason logically or they are not. It is like the ability to sing. Lessons might help somewhat, but some people are born naturally good singers and some people are hopeless.

  11. magusjanus says:

    Political Governance in a modern tech large population country. Virtually every big rich country is poorly governed as rent-seeking behavior kicks in. The ‘efficiently’ governed (not perfect but relatively more efficient) are small, like Singapore, Switzerland, Norway, etc. The ‘big’ ones or even ‘moderately big’ like UK, US, Russia, France, etc. are poorly governed in different ways.

    The bang for the buck from even marginal improvements in political governance dwarfs almost everything else if only because of how big the inefficiency has become. A US with equivalent political governance of say 1950 with modern day tech would probably be busy building a Dyson Sphere by now.

    • TB says:

      My pet theory is that time is a key element. The longer a particular government is in control without large turnover, the more is captured by rent-seeking. The US republican form of governance, with split powers between states and feds, and dual competing parties, partially mitigates this trend. But still, the US has one of the oldest continuously operating governments in the world.

    • Basil Marte says:

      Is Norway particularly efficiently governed? I’d guess they are ruled about as well as the other nearby countries, except that they have a lot of oil revenue. They certainly had their moments of hilarious stupidity, such as the Butter Panic.

      • Corruption is low in the Scandinavian countries because of culture. This gradually worsens as one heads south and east. I agree with both the time and size arguments, to a point.

      • Anonymous says:

        Norway has the highest share of workers on sick leave or disability benefits in the world, and its not because people are sick.

      • TDS says:

        The butter panic was fun. Road infrastructure is also embarrasing, no main road between the two largest cities (you get to chose between 7 equally bad routes). Also, highest share of workforce on sick leave or disability pensions in the world, and thats not because people are sick. All in all though, at least its still in control of all its urban areas, unlike Sweden.

    • David Chamberlin says:

      “Virtually every big rich country is poorly governed.”

      Tis true. But then you steer off into rent seeking behavior, which strikes me as a weird tangent. Look…It’s simple. Popular means average people like it and average people have no stinking idea about how complex things work. We don’t turn on the radio and expect to listen to really great music, we all expect pop crap, why do we expect so much more from politics? We haven’t got it and we never will. We don’t need explanations like rent behavior to rationalize why every big government sucks. Popular means shallow and idiotic, it never is wise.

      So then we can steer into idealism and ask what is better. pthththththth to that idealism. pththththth to blaming the culprit as to why popular opinions suck. They always have.

      • engleberg says:

        Homer and Virgil wrote really great pop crap; there have been really great democratic politicians. But in the sixties the D party lost the discipline to steal in moderation and the R party lost the power to be a governing party.

  12. Peripatetic Commenter says:

    How can we stop people appealing to epigenetics as the explanation?

    This guy seems to have the right attitude.

  13. Jon says:

    Secondary and tertiary education seems like an obvious area. The NAEP and a mountain of other evidence indicates we are spending far more and getting the same or worse results compared to 60 years ago. If we could make instruction more efficient and effective on a large scale the benefits would be enormous. Of course overcoming the education blob’s resistance to technical solutions would be the larger challenge.

    • Ruritainian says:

      Primary education has serious problems as well, probably worse problems than those found at upper levels. Contrary to your point, the “education blob” has been happy to jump on a variety of technical solutions. The trouble is that most of these are the kind of solutions that make things worse.

  14. ThirdWorldSteveReader says:

    Biofuel from algae (which would require a better understanding of cyanobacterial and/or eukaryotic algal genetics). Despite the hype about saving the environment, we have been advancing slowly on this front.

    • Paul Mendez says:

      The problem with creating biofuels from algae is that to make a valuable commodity (diesel) requires the large expenditure of another valuable commodity (fresh water).

  15. RF says:

    Demographic collapse in well-do societies with increasing urbanization is perhaps the most important “reverse salient” our civilization faces. The research of precise mechanisms underlying it is stymied by the PC dogma, I am afraid.

    • ohwilleke says:

      Not sure that it is a bad thing. Reducing world population without forced fertility controls or mass murder to a more optimal size seems like a good thing to me.

      • Rory says:

        And yet the population of every developed country continues to increase steadily, just not the population of that country’s historic nation, but rather the population of the various third-worlders (particularly africans) who move there.

        An increasing population of Africans historically doesn’t bode well for good governance, and Africa’s population explosion doesn’t look as though it will be slowing down so long as it a) has Europe as a release valve for its excess population, and b) can sustain feeding its population with western largess.

        So as demographic problems become acute, in a situation where Europe/the Anglosphere are wracked with economic and social dysfunction (with a sizeable population of semi-hostile foreigners), along with an Africa dependant on the proper-functioning of the former to feed their massive population, it doesn’t look good for being able to avoid mass murder/famine/pandemics/assorted human suffering.

        And that’s to say nothing of the problems facing a demographically declining nation which doesn’t import huge numbers of foreigners (such as Japan), which are considerable.

      • Woof says:

        The big problem with demographic collapse is that it is occurring in the brightest societies amongst the brightest of those societies. The people most likely to clear cut the Amazon rain forest and hunt the last Rhino to extinction are the ones having the most kids. The ones most likely to create clean energy and reduce habitat destruction have the fewest.

      • Optimal population size is entirely dependent on what technology they are using. One could describe the world as overcrowded, or as empty.

      • Lowe says:

        I have been thinking about what commenters Rory and Woof have described. That is, our seeming dysgenic future. I now think that belief in a future of increasing automation is deluded, because it ignores demographic reality, which is that manual labor will be cheap, not worth automating.

        I am curious whether other commenters agree with this, and whether anyone has any ideas on benefiting financially from this. Is there a way to bet on the slow demographic decline of the West, and (probably) disappointing results results on the automation of manual labor?

        • Rye says:

          There is no way to benefit financially from the extinction of your people. The people in charge aren’t motivated by financial considerations. Northwestern European peoples are the most economically productive major population on the planet, from a purely rational standpoint one could receive orders of magnitude return on investment by facilitating the demographic and territorial expansion of this population, and this basically was the official policy of our elites until the post WWI period. Our current elites are pursuing the opposite policy, the demographic destruction of Northwestern European peoples in all regions of the world. This policy will eventually result in a dark age, where economic and scientific productivity collapses and most investments are wiped clean. This policy makes no economic sense, but is quite rational from the perspective of ethnic competition. I suppose that the only potential route to return on investment is by putting your money into the nation of our rulers, but they probably have strict controls of foreign investment and are likely to swindle you out of your money anyway.

    • Henry Scrope says:

      A reducing population could be a bonus with increased automation. With the lost natives being replaced by aliens then it is just genocide.

    • Michel Rouzic says:

      Well we know why this is happening, abandoning religious morality (mostly pertaining to sex, reproduction and marriage) and the use of various forms of birth control are to blame. Instead of reproduction happening when (mostly married) people bone now reproduction happens when people stop filling themselves with hormones. People are more prosperous than ever but make less children than ever, and they’ll always say that the reason is that they need the stars to align for them to choose to reproduce. Choice in reproduction was a mistake, the only evolutionary fit choice is to choose not to choose, and also for women to stop trying to live and work like men. The problem will be solved when people who do things right will have outbred and replaced people who insist on doing everything wrong.

      • RF says:

        So, perhaps we need an injection of instability for the proper survival instincts to kick in? A good dose of reality for the decadent and insulated from major adversities masses? War, invasion, disease, famine…?

  16. egregious philbin says:

    conversely, we should realize psychology is the same as scientology but without Xenu. Then the part of psychology that actually works (predicts, explains, replicates) viz., testing & measurement should be brought up to the computer age. laborious 1:1 testing still exists as a job, when it should have become obsolete 25 years ago.

  17. Stanley says:

    Delivering genes, in vivo, relative to the whole gene modification/genetic therapy field.

  18. Another Jabroni says:

    Advanced nuclear power: safe, small scale, mass produced reactors, which produce little to no long lived nucleotides and can ‘burn up’ existing nuclear waste.

    • BB753 says:

      Could we burn up plutonium in a nuclear reactor the way we burn up coal to ashes, efficiently and without radioactive waste?

      • deliciousprions says:

        The volume of waste for a given number of joules could be vastly reduced, and like Another Jabroni said, the long-lived transactinide waste could be completely eliminated with fast-fission reactors, which are existing technology (but not existing infrastructure). Instead of a bunch of crap that stays radioactive for a few thousand years, you get some crap that stays radioactive for decades to centuries.

        Not that waste disposal was a huge problem to begin with.

  19. Warren Notes says:

    Tackle the problem of decreasing male fertility. BTW, a study reported in the Daily Mail recently indicated that men with high IQ actually had bigger families. They were Scots, with birthdates ending in 1967. Not entirely surprising, given the idea of general fitness, but I doubt it replicates. 2. Healthy ways of preserving food for longer periods of time. About 25 percent of food is disposed of rather than consumed. Of course, laziness and finickiness are responsible as well, but even an incremental improvement would be significant. Mold is part of the problem. Mold control also should be developed so that they can be a long-lasting part of construction. The mold that follows flooding in a building is generally more destructive than the flooding itself. 3. Supposedly, liquid graphene panels can generate electricity through contact with rain. I am wondering if a new form of dam could be developed to increase electricity generation. The dam could be terraced to create a mist as the water runs over, and the droplets created would make contact with graphene panels.. At the bottom, the terraces would narrow and the water would flow through turbines to generate traditional hydroelectric power. Less pollution with no carbon sources involved.

  20. ohwilleke says:

    Finding a biological basis for various personality traits.

    • another fred says:

      The field of HBD in general is a reverse salient. I get the feeling that there is a lot that would be easy to learn/prove, but too many people don’t want the answers. We’ll learn the hard way.

  21. TB says:

    A recent Medscape article suggests healthcare accounts for only a few percent of lifespan differences:
    …All four methods yielded the same conclusion: Healthcare accounts for between 5% and 15% (roughly 10%) of variation in premature death, whereas behavioral and social factors account for 16% to 65%…

    So, relevant to this discussion, what factors actually account for premature death? Health?
    Note that they do not mention genes anywhere in that article.

    • ChrisA says:

      Actually that suggest another idea – why do some people have will power to say lose weight by eating less or to take more exercise so improving their health, and other people don’t? Is it a genetic things or can it be taught/coached? Can you take a pill to improve your will power? (I know about ADD drugs but they seem to be about focus rather than will power).

  22. Anonymous says:

    Nuclear propulsion. I want to visit Mars in good health (no unnecessary zero-g and radiation exposure) and before AIs take over.
    However… imagine night sky full of bright comet tails, each tail an exhaust plume. Astronomers would cry probably.

  23. NoOne says:

    I think the most important reverse salient problem extant today is in software development. It is almost impossible to write code to manage complex systems that has predictable responses in all areas of functionality. That is my primary worry associated with AI development.

  24. Thagomizer says:

    “Compliant mechanisms” or designing simple machines with flexible parts. Or often a single part.

    Very useful with 3d printing or with microscopic techniques. However it’s strange that such straightforward mechanical research is being done in 2019.

  25. ghazisiz says:

    Everything in the social sciences lags in an “obvious way behind the general line of advance.” That’s mostly because you are not supposed to hurt anyone’s feelings, in the classroom, or in your publications, and you therefore only speak in half-truths to everyone, all the time. The few places where truth is spoken — such as among the IQ researchers — the participants pay a price bigger than the rest of us are willing to pay. There is no realistic solution to this. Sorry.

  26. TDS says:

    Aquaculture in general. Offshore, the ocean surface has very little going on. If we had focused as much on aquaculture as agriculture, we’d domesticated way more than just salmon. Growing seaweed would have been cheap, could be used for animal fodder, fuel or just to consume co2 and drop it to the ocean floor. Would only need a small corner of the pacific to feed the planet and to suck in all the carbon emissions in the world.

    • protokol2020 says:

      Oh, yes, CO2. You can extract some CO2 from the atmosphere by agriculture, but it will soon be back. When the food will be eaten and processed, the feared CO2 will be back in the circulation.

      Fortunately, we don’t need to worry about it, since the rain washes it from the atmosphere and deposits it in the oceans, too.

      Speaking about these revert salients, the CO2 understanding is one of them.

      • TDS says:

        If you grow kelp/algae until its heavy enough, and just let it sink, the co2 will remain in the sediment layer and be out of the atmosphere. Potentially cheap carbon capture scheme.

  27. Esso says:

    Mr. Cochran, I get the feeling you are trying to farm us commenters for ideas…

    In medicine, compared to MRI machines and feats of surgery, hygiene and prevention of contagion seem to be less intensively advanced areas. I think it would be illustrative to see more research and calculations about health impacts given the potential risks. If enteroviruses are the culprit of type 1 diabetes, how much can we save with prevention? What is the effect of kindergartens and schools? Cities?

    In the small-scale utilisation of solid fuels for power the state of the art is pretty much WW2 era. Critical problem: making ICEs (or heat exchangers) more tolerant of ash or tar and high intake temperatures.

  28. deliciousprions says:

    Why the hell do we know so little about the regulation and mechanisms behind diphyodonty in mammals? It would be oh so useful to be able to grow a new set of adult teeth. Much better than dentures, that’s for sure.

  29. dearieme says:

    It’s only just occurred to me that “Reverse salients” sounds like an order given while drilling troops.

  30. David Chamberlin says:

    The bell shape curve of IQ really really really pisses people off, as well it should if you aren’t a lucky winner sitting out there on the long left tail.

    The problem is pep talks don’t change reality. But if it’s popular it sure does sell. So what we have here is a failure to communicate. I read all kinds of previous comments that predict a gloomy future for us sad sad people. Horse shit. Life was HARD, and it isn’t hard anymore. Of course if you are from Venezuela of Sub Saharan Africa this comment might justifiably piss you off but by and large we are all living on easy street compared to life before the industrial revolution.

    Shifted bell shape curves gives England 15 times as many people with an IQ over 130 than Qatar. So England will be OK and Qatar is fucked. Get a productive engineer class of just one or two percent and the clown car called the economy doesn’t drive into a tree.

    • Rosenmops says:

      England is filling up with people from the Middle East and south Asia. Half the residents of London were born abroad. The immigrants usually have lower average IQ and and grew up in a low-trust/high-corruption culture. England will not be OK.

      • j mct says:

        It would seem to me that one might combine anti aging research and cancer suppression. Just guessing, but I’d guess that though looking at whales might be difficult and slow going, given that I’d say that these genes are down in the guts of cell machinery, they’d be the same in all mammals, so one can transplant or genetically modify mice to have them.
        Then genetically modify them again for longevity, and maybe this time around they won’t end up a mass of tumors.

        Having said this, it would seem that longevity would add to fitness, so these genes should be selected for without regards to the number of cells in the organisms body. So maybe there is some downside to them.

      • Eponymous says:

        Btw, why hasn’t there been more evolution in humans towards longer lifespans over the recent past? Was living to 70+ really so rare until very recently that there wasn’t much selection for delayed senescence? And do we see evidence of recent selection?

        And wtf isn’t this a huge area of research? I know, human insanity, but what species?

  31. Karl says:

    What makes sheep homosexual?

  32. Alex says:

    Quite a long silence here on the blog!

  33. Rosenmops says:

    Psychiatry seems to be a long way behind other branches of medicine.

  34. harriettubmanagenda says:

    Tailoring K-12 curricula to individual children’s interests and abilities. Earlier career tracking.

  35. Scott Locklin says:

    Obvious stuff in my work: PGMs and weird information theory based classifiers like Vovk and Gammerman and company’s Mondrian predictors are super under-researched compared to dweeb learning. One of the only useful products of the “openAI institute” has been building video toaster PGM frameworks. There’s probably low hanging fruit remaining in statistics by applying ideas from topology or other branches of math to the old classics. I’m probably too dumb to push it forward, but there’s gold there for people who know where to look for it.

    Open source software has mostly been a regression for software development. If you look at something like Delphi for productivity compared to any open source framework, or LLVM compared to DEC or Cray compilers from the old days; much has been lost.

    Microbiome seems like something where there has been real progress. It’s not clear they’ve done much with obviously weird things like archaea in gingivitis.

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