It is difficult to define progress. If the values of each individual human can be averaged or summed and so extended to all of society then what is desired is long life for the individuals (i.e. an increasing average life expectancy) and a growing population. (See my Theories of Value Change, Trans. Kansas Academy of Sci., 2006 and my blog of 21 Sept. 2010) If this is the correct definiton of progress then resource limits would demand that mankind soon expand into space.
The situation could be improved if humans could be replaced by nanoscale artificial intelligences. (see google group sci.space.tech , 15 March 1999, R. Jones)
(Life's "purpose" is to perpetuate and expand itself.)