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.
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