A Quest for Knowledge


Is more novel research always desirable? We develop a model in which knowledge shapes society's policies and guides the search for discoveries. Researchers select a question and how intensely to study it. The novelty of a question determines both the value and difficulty of discovering its answer. We show that the benefits of discoveries are nonmonotone in novelty. Knowledge expands endogenously step-by-step over time. Through a dynamic externality, moonshots -- research on questions more novel than what is myopically optimal -- can improve the evolution of knowledge. Moonshots induce research cycles in which subsequent researchers connect the moonshot to previous knowledge.

If you are not a member of the CBE research group but would like to attend the seminar, please send an email to the seminar organizers Mateusz Mysliwski or Øyvind Thommasen.