More with energy, resource conservation and preservation, biological risks, and more intelligent economic planning, these two groups of people can learn much from one another. It seems that the thermodynamic realities of the conservation of energy escapes the economists and even more the financial people and investors, and the economic and financial realities of market forces are incomprehensible to engineers and most scientists.

Even SE is silo-ed for practical purposes, so that each stack can function independently. Universities are set up with divisions of schools, departments, and curricula. Corporations will fire people for talking too much to the next department or group over a block of cubicles or offices.

How can a forum be created in SE or really anywhere that overcomes this segregation so that interdisciplinary work that determines the future of humanity can be conducted. How can the important work needed to avoid significant risk and open doors wider to the possibility of vast improvement be conducted freely and with enthusiasm?


Unfortunately, a Stack Exchange-style Q&A is not the solution to this type of problem.

The intended operation of an SE site depends heavily on gathering an audience around very specific area of study or expertise with the express purpose of answering specific, applied questions you might encounter in your day-to-day work or study. The goal of these systems is to curate such issues into a collection of knowledge so that those who might encounter them can confidently find the "top, most correct" solution vetted by the community without a lot of digging or followup.

But Stack Exchange is not a discussion forum.

There are a lot of great tools to facilitate meeting and deliberation online — but interdisciplinary collaboration requires a level of back-and-forth debate which is not in our DNA. The "problem" SE was designed to address is the overly broad discussion forum where question threads would fill with random conjecture, (mis)information, and guesswork until someone finally arrives at the correct solution at the bottom of page 11. But our one-question-best-answer approach discourages iterative panel discussion by design.

Stack Exchange simply is not the right tool to encourage economists and investors to discuss important global initiatives with scientists and engineers. Trying to host those discussions here would be doing those issues a terrible disservice.


It will take a bit of time to get used to the Area51 process, and the interplay between proposals and existing sites. It might seem rather arcane. And yet Area51 has launched dozens of sites successfully! If you want to develop a site for Q&A on solar science and economics, just come along and ask and answer questions on sustainability.se. If you want to chat about economics and renewable energy, you can do so on the sustainability chat and the economics chat - that's the closest we've got to a forum.

But as Robert says, you can't create a new StackExchange and use it as a discussion forum.

As to your other points: you'll find that economists generally don't need to know about the conservation of energy, or momentum, or baryon number, to do their work well. Similarly, scientists don't need to understand financial markets to do their work well. And not everyone's career fits into a silo: there are many people out there who work across yesterday's disciplines. The ontology of knowledge workers is constantly evolving.

So now we have environmental economists, and material scientists, and industrial designers, each of whom span across several of yesterday's disciplines.

The inter-disciplinary work that you call for, together with trans-disciplinary work, and cross-disciplinary work, is already going on, in universities, in industry, and among public-sector policy makers.

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