invention of agriculture

52 results back to index


pages: 272 words: 76,089

Billions & Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium by Carl Sagan

addicted to oil, Albert Einstein, anti-communist, clean water, cosmic abundance, dark matter, demographic transition, Exxon Valdez, F. W. de Klerk, germ theory of disease, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of agriculture, invention of radio, invention of the telegraph, invention of the telephone, Isaac Newton, Mikhail Gorbachev, Nelson Mandela, pattern recognition, planetary scale, prisoner's dilemma, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ronald Reagan, stem cell, the scientific method, Thomas Malthus, zero-sum game

Eventually the exponential curve for all of us together is expected to flatten out, having killed many fewer than everybody on Earth. (Small comfort for its many victims and their loved ones.) Exponentials are also the central idea behind the world population crisis. For most of the time humans have beef on Earth the population was stable, with births and deaths almost perfectly in balance. This is called a "steady state." After the invention of agriculture—including the planting and harvesting of those grains of wheat the Grand Vizier was hankering for—the human population of this planet began increasing, entering an exponential phase, which is very far from a steady state. Right now the doubling time of the world population is about 40 years. Every 40 years there will be twice as many of us. As the English clergyman Thomas Malthus pointed out in 1798, a population increasing exponentially—Malthus described it as a geometrical progression—will outstrip any conceivable increase in food supply.

Team sports are not just stylized echoes of ancient wars. They also satisfy an almost-forgotten craving for the hunt. * The crisis was resolved when Mr. Abdul-Rauf agreed to stand during the anthem, but pray instead of sing. Since our passions for sports run so deep and are so broadly distributed, they are likely to be hardwired into us—not in our brains but in our genes. The 10,000 years since the invention of agriculture is not nearly enough time for such predispositions to have evolved away and disappeared. If we want to understand them, we must go much further back. The human species is hundreds of thousands of years old (the human family several millions of years old). We have led a sedentary existence—based on farming and domestication of animals—for only the last 3 percent of that period, during which is all our recorded history.

For example, much methane is sequestered in bogs (which sometimes produces the eerily beautiful dancing lights called "will-o-the-wisps"). It might begin to bubble up at an increasing pace as the Earth warms. The additional methane warms the Earth still further, and so on, another positive feedback. Wallace Broecker of Columbia University points to the very quick warming that happened about 10,000 B.C., just before the invention of agriculture. It's so steep that, he believes, it implies an instability in the coupled ocean-atmosphere system; and that if you push the Earth's climate too hard in one direction or another, you cross a threshold, there's a kind of "bang," and the whole system runs away by itself to another stable state. He proposes that we may be teetering on just such an instability right now. This consideration only makes things worse, maybe much worse.


pages: 626 words: 167,836

The Technology Trap: Capital, Labor, and Power in the Age of Automation by Carl Benedikt Frey

"Robert Solow", 3D printing, autonomous vehicles, basic income, Bernie Sanders, Branko Milanovic, British Empire, business cycle, business process, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Clayton Christensen, collective bargaining, computer age, computer vision, Corn Laws, creative destruction, David Graeber, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, demographic transition, desegregation, deskilling, Donald Trump, easy for humans, difficult for computers, Edward Glaeser, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, factory automation, falling living standards, first square of the chessboard / second half of the chessboard, Ford paid five dollars a day, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, full employment, future of work, game design, Gini coefficient, Hyperloop, income inequality, income per capita, industrial cluster, industrial robot, intangible asset, interchangeable parts, Internet of things, invention of agriculture, invention of movable type, invention of the steam engine, invention of the wheel, Isaac Newton, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, job automation, job satisfaction, job-hopping, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, labour mobility, Loebner Prize, low skilled workers, Malcom McLean invented shipping containers, manufacturing employment, mass immigration, means of production, Menlo Park, minimum wage unemployment, natural language processing, new economy, New Urbanism, Norbert Wiener, oil shock, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, Pareto efficiency, pattern recognition, pink-collar, Productivity paradox, profit maximization, Renaissance Technologies, rent-seeking, rising living standards, Robert Gordon, robot derives from the Czech word robota Czech, meaning slave, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, social intelligence, speech recognition, spinning jenny, Stephen Hawking, The Future of Employment, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, total factor productivity, trade route, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, Turing test, union organizing, universal basic income, washing machines reduced drudgery, wealth creators, women in the workforce, working poor, zero-sum game

Economic historians have long debated why the technology boom of the 1760s in Britain took so long to produce higher standards of living, and economists are now engaged in a strikingly similar debate about why staggering advances in automation so far have failed to show results in the pockets of average people. This book is an attempt to connect two large bodies of scholarly research to put the Gates paradox in historical perspective. It tracks the expanding frontiers of technology from the invention of agriculture to the rise of AI, tracing the fates of humans as technology has progressed. I should warn the reader that this is not a balanced account. A book of this scope must be selective and carefully prioritize what it discusses. The history of technology is the subject of an extensive literature that I cannot do justice to here. Rather, by reviewing some of the most important technological advances, I shall try to convince the reader that the price of progress paid by the workforce has varied greatly in history, depending on the nature of technological change, and has increased in the twenty-first century—which explains many of the discontents people now face.

When progress is of the enabling sort, in contrast, and the gains from growth are more widely shared, there tends to be greater acceptance of new technologies. The chapters that follow divide economic history into four episodes. Part 1, titled “The Great Stagnation,” consists of three chapters that concern preindustrial technologies and their effects on people’s standard of living. Chapter 1 gives a succinct summary of advances in technology from the invention of agriculture some 10,000 years ago up until the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. It shows that many significant technologies emerged before the eighteenth century, but they failed to improve material conditions for ordinary people. Chapter 2 demonstrates that though living standards had improved before the Industrial Revolution, growth was predominantly based on trade. The Schumpeterian growth of our modern age, based on labor-saving technology, creative destruction in employment, and the acquisition of new skills, was not the engine of economic progress.

The Idiocy of Rural Life For most of human history, there was no wealth and no inequality. The age of inequality began with the Neolithic revolution. The following period constituted only a brief episode of human history, relative to the forager era that preceded it. As noted, in the absence of any technology for storing meat, instant consumption was inevitable, and no significant food surplus was attainable. It was only after the invention of agriculture that food could be stored, land could be owned, and individuals could accumulate a surplus of significance—which in turn introduced the concept of property rights and a political structure to uphold those rights. Of course, prehistory does not provide any records of how the first political structures came about, but the rise of the feudal system in medieval Europe clearly constituted an exchange of peasant labor for knightly protection.


pages: 329 words: 85,471

The Locavore's Dilemma by Pierre Desrochers, Hiroko Shimizu

air freight, back-to-the-land, British Empire, Columbian Exchange, Community Supported Agriculture, creative destruction, edge city, Edward Glaeser, food miles, Food sovereignty, global supply chain, intermodal, invention of agriculture, inventory management, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, land tenure, megacity, moral hazard, mortgage debt, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, planetary scale, profit motive, refrigerator car, Steven Pinker, the market place, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, trade liberalization, Upton Sinclair, urban sprawl

For example, many large mammal and bird species disappeared soon after humans reached the shores of the Americas, Australia, New Zealand, Madagascar, and countless small islands.2 Perhaps their most profound impact over time, however, was that they profoundly altered the natural fire regime of countless ecosystems through deliberate and regular burning of the landscape, a practice which both opened and reduced forested landscape and created or “refreshed” prairies and meadows, the process resulting in a significant increase of large herbivores and better hunting conditions.3 With the invention of agriculture came the creation of cropland and pastureland out of forests and wetlands; the opening up of forest canopies through the cutting of tree sprouts and limbs for fodder and the grazing of animals; the removal of predators and competing wild herbivorous mammals; and the worldwide transfer and adaptation of domesticated plants and animals.4 In the words of Norwegian botanist Knut Faegri, apart from “some small and doubtful exceptions, all vegetation types were created or modified by man. . . .

Like his fellow riders (conquest, war, and death from pestilence), he was until recently a familiar presence in most human societies. As the geographer Brian Murton observes, famines have plagued humankind for at least 6,000 years and have long been used by scholars and chroniclers to “slice up history into manageable portions.”9 While researchers still disagree on the widespread, recurring, and severe character of prehistorical hunger, there is a general consensus that, with the invention of agriculture, famines typically resulted from a succession of mediocre harvests rather than from an isolated crop failure. Some could be traced back to human factors such as wars, ethnic and religious persecution, price controls, protectionism, excessive taxation, and lack of respect for private property rights. Others were due to natural origins, such as unseasonable temperatures, excessive or insufficient rainfall, floods, insect pests, rodents, pathogens, soil degradation, and epidemics that made farmers or their beasts of burden unfit for work.10 In many cases, a number of these factors were involved.


The Ages of Globalization by Jeffrey D. Sachs

Admiral Zheng, British Empire, Cape to Cairo, colonial rule, Columbian Exchange, Commentariolus, coronavirus, COVID-19, Covid-19, cuban missile crisis, decarbonisation, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, domestication of the camel, Donald Trump, en.wikipedia.org, endogenous growth, European colonialism, global supply chain, greed is good, income per capita, invention of agriculture, invention of gunpowder, invention of movable type, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, job automation, John von Neumann, joint-stock company, Louis Pasteur, low skilled workers, mass immigration, Nikolai Kondratiev, out of africa, packet switching, Pax Mongolica, precision agriculture, profit maximization, profit motive, purchasing power parity, South China Sea, spinning jenny, The inhabitant of London could order by telephone, sipping his morning tea in bed, the various products of the whole earth, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, Turing machine, Turing test, urban planning, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, wikimedia commons

The presence of coal and oil reserves meant a lot more after the invention of the steam engine and the internal combustion engine, respectively. The intense sunshine of the deserts will mean a lot more in the future with the deployment of low-cost photovoltaic energy. Such examples run deep throughout the human experience. The control of fire enabled early humans to move to colder biomes; the multisite invention of agriculture enabled dense human settlements in alluvial plains; the domesticated horse expanded the zones of agriculture; Columbus’s voyages of discovery ultimately led to massive European migrations to the Americas; the Suez and Panama canals deeply altered the costs and patterns of global trade and, with global warming, new trade routes in the Arctic Sea may do the same; the British mass production of quinine to control malaria enabled the European conquest of tropical Africa; the railroad opened up the interiors of continents for food production and trade.

Environmental sustainability and peace across cultures may not come naturally, but must be constructed using our abilities to reason and to look ahead. 3 The Neolithic Age (10,000–3000 BCE) The great dispersal from Africa, and migrations of modern humans across the planet, culminated in the birth of permanent settlements in dispersed villages and the so-called Neolithic revolution—the advent of farming around eleven thousand years ago. Initially, a small proportion of humanity took up the permanent cultivation of crops. Over time, more and more of humanity settled in permanent locations for farming, forsaking the nomadic lives of hunters and gatherers. Thus, the Neolithic Age became the age of globalization by farming. The invention of agriculture in Western Asia was preceded by sedentism, which began roughly 14,500 years ago. The cause was a warming of the climate toward the end of the Pleistocene and the start of the Holocene. The rise in temperature increased the availability of food and enabled communities in the eastern Mediterranean to establish more permanent settlements even before they cultivated crops. Populations also began to increase.


Affluence Without Abundance: The Disappearing World of the Bushmen by James Suzman

access to a mobile phone, agricultural Revolution, back-to-the-land, clean water, discovery of the americas, equal pay for equal work, European colonialism, full employment, invention of agriculture, invisible hand, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, means of production, Occupy movement, open borders, out of africa, post-work, quantitative easing, The Chicago School, The Future of Employment, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade route, trickle-down economics, unemployed young men, We are the 99%

The story of southern Africa’s Bushmen encapsulates the history of modern Homo sapiens from our species’ first emergence in sub-Saharan Africa through to the agricultural revolution and beyond. It is an incomplete story, one pieced together from fragments of archaeology, anthropology, and most recently genomics. Taken together, these fragments offer a sense of how hunter-gatherers came to exemplify elements of Keynes’s Utopia and how, since the invention of agriculture, our destiny has been shaped by our preoccupation with solving the “economic problem.” The glue that holds these fragments together is the story of one particular Bushman group, the Ju/’hoansi of Namibia. The words Ju and /hoan translate into English as “people” and “truth.” Thus “Ju/’hoan” means “Real Person” or “Proper Person” and “Ju/’hoansi” means “Real People.” There are between eight and ten thousand Ju/’hoansi alive today.

But the main approach they took to managing the predator problem was far less discriminate. They simply poisoned the carcasses of dead animals and left these for the predators—and anything else that stumbled across them, from jackals to vultures—to consume. In eradicating local predators, the Herero settlers were doing something that farming peoples across the globe had done since the invention of agriculture. And that involved reconceptualizing elements within it in terms of the benefits they offered or the risks they posed. Unwelcome elements, like lions, wild dogs, and hyenas, were classified as pests. Now, two decades after arriving in G/am and with their predator problem dealt with, the Herero still covet the rich grasslands of Nyae Nyae and occasionally cut holes in the veterinary fence to sneak their cattle into Nyae Nyae.


pages: 313 words: 95,077

Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations by Clay Shirky

Andrew Keen, Berlin Wall, bioinformatics, Brewster Kahle, c2.com, Charles Lindbergh, crowdsourcing, en.wikipedia.org, hiring and firing, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, Internet Archive, invention of agriculture, invention of movable type, invention of the printing press, invention of the telegraph, jimmy wales, Joi Ito, Kuiper Belt, liberation theology, Mahatma Gandhi, means of production, Merlin Mann, Metcalfe’s law, Nash equilibrium, Network effects, Nicholas Carr, Picturephone, place-making, Pluto: dwarf planet, prediction markets, price mechanism, prisoner's dilemma, profit motive, Richard Stallman, Robert Metcalfe, Ronald Coase, Silicon Valley, slashdot, social software, Stewart Brand, supply-chain management, The Nature of the Firm, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, transaction costs, ultimatum game, Vilfredo Pareto, Yogi Berra

Sociability is one of our core capabilities, and it shows up in almost every aspect of our lives as both cause and effect. Society is not just the product of its individual members; it is also the product of its constituent groups. The aggregate relations among individuals and groups, among individuals within groups, and among groups forms a network of astonishing complexity. We have always relied on group effort for survival; even before the invention of agriculture, hunting and gathering required coordinated work and division of labor. You can see an echo of our talent for sociability in the language we have for groups; like a real-world version of the mythical seventeen Eskimo words for snow, we use incredibly rich language in describing human association. We can make refined distinctions between a corporation and a congregation, a clique and a club, a crowd and a cabal.

These groups aren’t the classic American interest groups of yore; many of the most popular groups tell us surprising things about what our society is like right now. Stay at Home Moms and the Politics of Exclusion One of the most popular current groups on Meetup is Stay at Home Moms (SAHM). Mothers with young children have been gathering in groups since before the invention of the internet, in fact before the invention of agriculture. This is an old pattern, so why would SAHM Meetups be so popular? The answer, in one sentence, is that modern life has raised transaction costs so high that even ancient habits of congregation have been defeated. As a result, things that used to happen as a side effect of regular life now require some overt coordination. Some of the hurdles to be overcome are physical. As of the 2000 census, a majority of the U.S. population lived in the suburbs, and in the suburbanized United States, physical distance raises several barriers.


pages: 467 words: 503

The omnivore's dilemma: a natural history of four meals by Michael Pollan

additive manufacturing, back-to-the-land, clean water, cognitive dissonance, Community Supported Agriculture, double entry bookkeeping, Gary Taubes, Haber-Bosch Process, index card, informal economy, invention of agriculture, means of production, new economy, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, transaction costs, Upton Sinclair, Whole Earth Catalog

Corn is the hero of its own story, and though we humans played a crucial supporting role in its rise to world domination, it would be wrong to suggest we have been calling the shots, or acting always in our own best interests. Indeed, there is every reason to believe that corn has succeeded in domesticating us. To some extent this holds true for all of the plants and animals that take part in the grand coevolutionary bargain with humans we call agriculture. Though we insist on speaking of the "invention" of agriculture as if it were our idea, like double-entry bookkeeping or the lightbulb, in fact it makes just as much sense to regard agriculture as a brilliant (if unconscious) evolutionary strategy on the part of the plants and animals involved to get us to advance their interests. By evolving certain traits we happen to regard as desirable, these species got themselves noticed by the one mammal in a position not only to spread their 2 4 * THE OMNIVORE'S DILEMMA genes around the world, but to remake vast swathes of that world in the image of the plants' preferred habitat.

In America before the 1850s a farmer owned his sacks of corn up to the moment when a buyer took delivery, and so bore the risk for anything that went wrong between farm and table or trough. For better or worse that burlap sack linked a corn buyer anywhere in America with a particular farmer cultivating a particular patch of the earth. With the coming of the railroads and the invention of the grain elevator (essentially a great vertical warehouse filled by conveyor belt and *I'm drawing on the excellent account of the invention of agricultural commodities in William Cronon's Nature's Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West (1991). 60 * THE OMNIVORE'S DILEMMA emptied by spigot) the sacks suddenly became a problem. Now it made sense to fill railroad cars and elevators by conveyor, to treat corn less as a certain number of discrete packages someone had to haul and more like an unbounded liquid that could be pumped, in effect, by machine.

So they developed a deep root system and a ground-hugging crown that in many cases puts out runners, allowing the grasses to recover quickly from fire and to reproduce even when grazers (or lawnmowers) prevent them from ever flowering and going to seed. (I used to think we were dominating the grass whenever we mowed the lawn, but in fact we're playing right into its strategy for world domination, by helping it outcompete the shrubs and trees.) The second phase of the marriage of grasses and humans is usually called the "invention of agriculture," a self-congratulatory phrase that overlooks the role of the grasses themselves in revising the terms of the relationship. Beginning about ten thousand years ago a handful of particularly opportunistic grass species—the ancestors of wheat, rice, and corn—evolved to produce tremendous, nutritionally dense seeds that could nourish humans directly, thereby cutting out the intermediary animals.The grasses accomplished this feat by becoming annuals, throwing all their energy into making seeds rather than storing some of it underground in roots and rhizomes to get through the winter.


pages: 372 words: 110,208

Who We Are and How We Got Here: Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Human Past by David Reich

23andMe, agricultural Revolution, Alfred Russel Wallace, European colonialism, Google Earth, invention of agriculture, invention of the wheel, invention of writing, mass immigration, meta analysis, meta-analysis, new economy, out of africa, phenotype, Scientific racism, supervolcano, the scientific method, transatlantic slave trade

Genetics offers the opportunity to rediscover lost stories, and has the potential to promote not just understanding but also healing. 8 The Genomic Origins of East Asians The Failure of the Southern Route East Asia—the vast region encompassing China, Japan, and Southeast Asia—is one of the great theaters of human evolution. It harbors more than one third of the world’s population and a similar fraction of its language diversity. Pottery was first invented there at least nineteen thousand years ago.1 It was the jumping-off point for the peopling of the Americas before fifteen thousand years ago. East Asia witnessed an independent and early invention of agriculture around nine thousand years ago. East Asia has been home to the human family for at least around 1.7 million years, the date of the oldest known Homo erectus skeleton found in China.2 The earliest human remains excavated in Indonesia are similarly old.3 Archaic humans—whose skeletal form is not the same as that of humans whose anatomically modern features begin to appear in the African fossil record after around three hundred thousand years ago4—have lived in East Asia continuously since those times.

But it is hard to predict what ancient DNA studies in East Asia will show. While we are beginning to have a relatively good idea of what happened in Europe, Europe does not provide a good road map for what to expect for East Asia because it was peripheral to some of the great economic and technological advances of the last ten thousand years, whereas China was at the center of changes like the local invention of agriculture. What this means is that while we can be sure that the findings from ancient DNA studies in East Asia will be illuminating, we do not yet know what they will be. All we can be sure of is that ancient DNA studies will change our understanding of the human past in this most populous part of the world. 9 Rejoining Africa to the Human Story A New Perspective on Our African Homeland The recognition that Africa is central to the human story has, paradoxically, distracted attention from the last fifty thousand years of its prehistory.


Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society by Nicholas A. Christakis

agricultural Revolution, Alfred Russel Wallace, Amazon Mechanical Turk, assortative mating, Cass Sunstein, crowdsourcing, David Attenborough, different worldview, disruptive innovation, double helix, epigenetics, experimental economics, experimental subject, invention of agriculture, invention of gunpowder, invention of writing, iterative process, job satisfaction, Joi Ito, joint-stock company, land tenure, Laplace demon, longitudinal study, Mahatma Gandhi, Marc Andreessen, means of production, mental accounting, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, out of africa, phenotype, Pierre-Simon Laplace, placebo effect, race to the bottom, Ralph Waldo Emerson, replication crisis, Rubik’s Cube, Silicon Valley, social intelligence, social web, stem cell, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, theory of mind, twin studies, ultimatum game, zero-sum game

Moreover, although the physical, biological, and social environments have all been pivotal in our evolution, they differ in one substantial respect. Aside from the (hugely important) mastery of fire over a million years ago, it is only in the past few thousand years that humans have been able to significantly shape their physical and biological environments—by damming rivers, domesticating plants and animals, generating air pollution, using antibiotics, and so on. Prior to the invention of agriculture and cities, humans did not build their physical environments; they simply chose them. By contrast, humans have always made their social environments. Living socially places special demands on us, and many cognitive capacities and behavioral repertoires evolved in order for us to cope. For example, we are innately equipped to cooperate, and living in cooperative groups favors certain genetic predispositions related to kindness and reciprocity.

Adaptive though they were for the long journeys and isolated living centuries ago, these genetic changes are a prescription for diabetes and obesity today, now that the descendants of those Polynesians have built settlements on land and obtained sources of food that are more stable.61 Other examples of gene-culture coevolution abound. There is some speculation that people who speak tonal languages (like Mandarin Chinese) face a different adaptive environment than those who do not and that variants of two particular genes affecting brain structure in ways that enhance fluency in such languages may be selected for.62 Innovations in farming or material technology can also have effects. It’s possible that the invention of agriculture may have made the ability to be patient (and wait for crops to grow) more adaptive and that it affected the utility of genes undergirding this disposition.63 Moreover, the domestication of crops typically increases the amount of starch in the diet and therefore affects the adaptive landscape for variants of genes that code for certain enzymes, such as amylase, which makes it easier to digest starchy foods.64 The effect of crops can be even more convoluted.

Of course, any acceleration in human evolution may be due to factors other than the emergence of cultural selection pressures. Another issue, for example, is the rise in the number of humans on the planet. With larger populations of an animal, beneficial mutations are more likely to occur somewhere in the population simply by chance; these larger populations of our species may have been facilitated by the invention of agriculture. However, it is also the case that cultural impacts can cease or reverse, which would mean that the genetic changes would be incomplete (a “partial genetic sweep” that did not reach “fixation” in the population). 74. X. Yi et al., “Sequencing of Fifty Human Exomes Reveals Adaptation to High Altitude,” Science 329 (2010): 75–78. 75. I imagine, however, that the settlers could have created cultural or religious rules that “required” them to make periodic trips or pilgrimages to the lowlands (which might have helped to reduce the stress of being at high altitudes the rest of the time).


pages: 374 words: 114,660

The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality by Angus Deaton

"Robert Solow", Admiral Zheng, agricultural Revolution, Branko Milanovic, BRICs, British Empire, call centre, clean water, colonial exploitation, Columbian Exchange, creative destruction, declining real wages, Downton Abbey, end world poverty, financial innovation, germ theory of disease, Gini coefficient, illegal immigration, income inequality, invention of agriculture, invisible hand, John Snow's cholera map, knowledge economy, Louis Pasteur, low skilled workers, new economy, purchasing power parity, randomized controlled trial, rent-seeking, rising living standards, Ronald Reagan, Simon Kuznets, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, structural adjustment programs, The Spirit Level, too big to fail, trade route, very high income, War on Poverty

Inequality, instead, is one of the “gifts” of civilization. Again, quoting Cohen, “The very process that creates the potential of civilization simultaneously guarantees that the potential is unlikely to be aimed equally at the welfare of all of its citizens.”7 Progress in prehistory—like progress in recent times—is rarely equally distributed; a better world—if indeed a world with agriculture was a better world—is a more unequal world. The invention of agriculture—the Neolithic revolution—began “only” about ten thousand years ago, a brief period indeed compared with the hunter-gatherer era that preceded it. We are accustomed to thinking of “revolutions” as transformative positive events—the Industrial Revolution and the germ-theory revolution are the two obvious examples. Yet it is unclear that agriculture was an advance to a higher plateau of wealth and health, as opposed to a retreat from an older way of living that had become unsustainable as animal stocks and suitable plants ran out under pressure of rising numbers and rising temperatures at the beginning of the Holocene.

Philosophers have debated these issues for many years; one position, argued by the philosopher and economist John Broome, is that once people are above some basic subsistence point that makes life worth living, then having more such people makes the world a better place.11 The world is supporting more total wellbeing. If so, and provided that life was worth living for most people—admittedly a large proviso—the long Malthusian era from the invention of agriculture up to the eighteenth century should be regarded as a period of progress, even if living standards and mortality rates showed no improvement. Life and Death in the Enlightenment Fast-forward a few thousand years to a period for which we begin to have good data on mortality. The British historical demographer Anthony Wrigley and his colleagues have reconstructed the history of English life expectancy from the parish registers that recorded the births, marriages, and deaths (hatches, matches, and dispatches) of the population.12 These parish records are not as good as a vital registration system—the study covered only a sample of parishes, there are issues with people moving from one parish to another, newborns who died very soon after birth may not have shown up at all, and parents sometimes reused the names of such children—but they provide by far the best record that we have for any country before about 1750.


pages: 422 words: 113,525

Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto by Stewart Brand

agricultural Revolution, Asilomar, Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA, back-to-the-land, biofilm, borderless world, Buckminster Fuller, business process, Cass Sunstein, clean water, Community Supported Agriculture, conceptual framework, Danny Hillis, dark matter, decarbonisation, demographic dividend, demographic transition, Elon Musk, Exxon Valdez, failed state, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, glass ceiling, Google Earth, Hans Rosling, Hernando de Soto, informal economy, interchangeable parts, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of agriculture, invention of the steam engine, Jane Jacobs, jimmy wales, Kevin Kelly, Kibera, land tenure, lateral thinking, low earth orbit, M-Pesa, Marshall McLuhan, megacity, microbiome, New Urbanism, orbital mechanics / astrodynamics, out of africa, Paul Graham, peak oil, Peter Calthorpe, Richard Florida, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, smart grid, stem cell, Stewart Brand, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, Thomas Malthus, University of East Anglia, uranium enrichment, urban renewal, wealth creators, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, William Langewiesche, working-age population, Y2K

Most cities were walled. Humans perpetually fight, LeBlanc says, because they always outstrip the carrying capacity of their natural environment and then have to fight over resources. Native peoples developed arcane knowledge of how to find and prepare difficult foods because they’d eliminated all the easy food sources. Peace can break out, though, when carrying capacity is pushed up suddenly, as with the invention of agriculture, or newly effective bureaucracy, or remote trade, or technological breakthroughs. Also a large-scale dieback from pestilence can make for peaceful times—Europe after its major plagues, the Americas after European diseases nearly obliterated the native populations. Such interludes are short: Population quickly rises to once more push against carrying capacity, and normal warfare resumes.

The more and greater the contrasts, and the more they are marbled together, the better. The most productive city is one with many cultures, many languages, many neighborhoods, and more kinds of urban experience available than any citizen can keep track of. In this formulation, it is the throwing together of great wealth and great poverty in the urban stew that is part of the cure for poverty. The common theory of the origin of cities states that they resulted from the invention of agriculture: Surplus food freed people to become specialists. You can’t have full-time cobblers, blacksmiths, and bureaucrats, the theory goes, without farms to feed them. Jane Jacobs upended that supposition in The Economy of Cities (1969). “Rural economies, including agricultural work,” she wrote, “are directly built upon city economies and city work.” It was so in the beginning, she argued, and continues to this day.


pages: 669 words: 195,743

Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic by David Quammen

Alfred Russel Wallace, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, conceptual framework, coronavirus, dark matter, digital map, double helix, experimental subject, facts on the ground, Fellow of the Royal Society, germ theory of disease, global pandemic, Google Earth, invention of agriculture, Isaac Newton, John Snow's cholera map, Louis Pasteur, out of africa, Pearl River Delta, South China Sea, urban sprawl

Falciparum malaria, because its global impact in death and misery is so high, has received particular attention. Early molecular research suggested that P. falciparum shares a close common ancestor with two different kinds of avian plasmodia, and that the parasite must therefore have crossed into humans from birds. A corollary to that idea, based on sensible deduction but not much evidence, is that the transfer probably happened just five or six thousand years ago, coincident with the invention of agriculture, which allowed for sedentary settlement—crop fields and villages—constituting the first sizable and dense aggregations of humans. Such gatherings of people would have been necessary to sustain the new infection, because malaria (like measles, but for different reasons) has a critical community size and tends to die out locally if the hosts are too few. Simple irrigation works, such as ditches and impoundments, may have increased the likelihood of transfer by offering good breeding habitat for Anopheles mosquitoes.

Then, in the same bland tone, he noted: “From this perspective, the most serious outbreak on the planet earth is that of the species Homo sapiens.” Berryman was alluding, of course, to the rate and the magnitude of human population growth, especially within the last couple centuries. He knew he was being provocative. But the numbers support him. At the time Berryman wrote, in 1987, the world’s human population stood at 5 billion. We had multiplied by a factor of about 333 since the invention of agriculture. We had increased by a factor of 14 since just after the Black Death, by a factor of 5 since the birth of Charles Darwin, and by doubling within the lifetime of Alan Berryman himself. That growth curve, on a coordinate graph, looks like the southwest face of El Capitan. Another way to comprehend it is this: From the time of our beginning as a species (about 200,000 years ago) until the year 1804, human population rose to a billion; between 1804 and 1927, it rose by another billion; we reached 3 billion in 1960; and each net addition of a billion people, since then, has taken only about thirteen years.

., 212, 241 Lyme disease, 21, 23, 238–59, 511 biogeography of, 256–59 biological diversity and risk of, 255–56 “chronic,” 238–39, 259 and deer population levels, 246–47 deer ticks as vector for, 212–13, 241–42, 255 as ecosystem, 247, 251, 253–54 prehistory of, 239–42 as vector-borne disease, 238 Lyme disease (continued) and white-footed mouse population levels, 252, 253–54 Lyme Disease: The Ecology of a Complex System (Ostfeld), 246, 257 lymphocytes, 488 depleted levels of, 385, 386–87, 474–75, 477 see also T cells lyssaviruses, 351 Macacine herpesvirus 1, see herpes B macaques: in AIDS research, 274 bonnet, 149 herpes B in, 272–79, 313 at Hindu and Buddhist temples, 24, 276–77 long-tailed (Macaca fascicularis), 77–78, 149, 157, 160, 162, 163, 276, 277–78 malaria in, 148–53, 156, 157–58, 160 pig-tailed, 149, 161, 162 in polio research, 272–74 precautionary slaughter of, 275–76, 286 Reston virus in, 8, 77–78, 861 rhesus (M. mulatta), 149, 162, 185, 401, 414 SFV in, 24, 287–89 SIV in, 395 SV40 in, 414 at Sylhet majars, 280–85 MacArthur, Robert, 302–3 Macau, China, 170 MacDonald, George, 145–48, 172, 303, 518 Machupo virus, 24, 38–39, 69–70, 270, 307, 346 Mackay, Australia, 28, 29–30, 45 Madagascar, 515 mad cow disease, 23–24 Madras, India, 128 Makokou General Hospital, Gabon, 57 Makovetskaya, Nadezhda Alekseevna, 99–100 Malacosoma, M. californicum (western tent caterpillar), 493–96 M. disstria (forest tent caterpillar), 493–96, 520 malaria, 127–28, 237, 381, 478 Anopheles mosquito as vector of, 135–36, 138 attempted eradication of, 133–34, 145–46, 147, 517–18 cause of, see Plasmodium critical community size of, 138 falciparum (malignant), 136–41, 418 and invention of agriculture, 137–38, 139 in nonhuman species, 135 P. knowlesi, 149–53, 156–64, 381, 480, 514, 518 reservoir hosts of, 161–62 simian, 148–53 as supposedly nonzoonotic, 135 as zoonotic disease, 42, 140, 152, 158, 160 malaria prophylaxis, 361–62 Malaya, University of, 315–16, 317 Malaysia: malaria in, 151–54, 156–63 mass culling of pigs in, 320 Nipah virus in, 21, 44, 314–25, 331, 334, 367 Mambele, Cameroon, 426, 437–38 Mambili River, 63, 64, 68, 89, 122 “Manchester sailor,” 407–8 mandrills, SIV in, 114 mangabeys: red-capped, 464, 465 sooty (Cercocebus atys), 399–401, 404, 406, 413 Maramagambo Forest, 357–58, 361 Marburg virus, 21, 22, 39, 40, 70, 92, 93, 116, 268, 307, 489 bats as reservoirs of, 313, 351–65, 370, 372 Martin, Lillian, 212, 214 Marx, Preston, 480 mass action principle of epidemics, 132 MassTag PCR, 514 mathematics, in infectious disease research, 129–35, 141–48 May, Robert M., 302–6, 518 Mayibout 2, Gabon, 53–54, 56–57, 60, 63, 72, 73, 80–81, 112–13, 114, 117, 443 Mbah, Neville, 432, 439–40, 450 Mbomo, Republic of the Congo, 89–91, 92, 118, 122–24 M’Both, Thony, 56–57, 112–13, 114 McCormack, Joseph, 29 McCoy, George W., 215 McKendrick, Anderson G., 141–44, 146, 236, 303, 367, 518 McNeill, William H., 41, 296 measles, 19, 67, 68, 88, 129, 264, 270, 349, 381 immunity to, 129–30 as nonzoonotic, 130 reservoir hosts of, 313 Medawar, Peter, 268, 271 Médecins Sans Frontières, 89 Megatransect (biological survey), 54, 59–60 Mékouka, Gabon, 87–88 Melaka virus, 314 Menangle virus, 314, 367 meningitis, 28, 240 merozoites, 136, 138 metapopulations, 367–68 Metropole Hotel, Hong Kong, 174–75, 177, 193, 206 Mexican free-tailed bats, 350 Mexico, 486 Miami, Fla., early AIDS cases in, 386–87, 389 Microbiological Research Establishment (Porton Down), 97–98 Millbrook, N.Y., 247–48, 252, 255, 257 Ministry of Health, DRC, 370, 417 Ministry of Health, Malaysia, 317 Ministry of Health, Zaire, 73 Minkébé forest, 56, 59, 60, 91, 111–12, 120 Moba Bai complex, 64–68, 89, 91, 120, 122, 466 Mobutu Sese Seko, 418, 484–85 Mok, Esther, 175–77, 180–81 molecular biology, 517 molecular phylogenetics, 137, 422, 463, 488 Moloundou, Cameroon, 439, 455 Mombo Mounene 2, DRC, 371 Mongo people, 139 monkeypox, 21, 22–23, 40, 71–72, 313, 499 Montagnier, Luc, 390–91, 392–93, 394, 397–98 Montana, Q fever in, 220–21, 231 Montgomery, Joel M., 327 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 386, 390, 486 morbilliviruses, 19, 130 Morse, Stephen S., 24 mosquitoes: as disease vectors, 23, 43, 128–29, 135, 263, 266, 314–15, 346 see also Anopheles mosquitoes mountain gorillas, 67, 68, 357, 360 Moyen-Congo, see Congo, Republic of the Mozambique, 483 “Mr.


pages: 144 words: 43,356

Surviving AI: The Promise and Peril of Artificial Intelligence by Calum Chace

"Robert Solow", 3D printing, Ada Lovelace, AI winter, Airbnb, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, barriers to entry, basic income, bitcoin, blockchain, brain emulation, Buckminster Fuller, cloud computing, computer age, computer vision, correlation does not imply causation, credit crunch, cryptocurrency, cuban missile crisis, dematerialisation, discovery of the americas, disintermediation, don't be evil, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, Erik Brynjolfsson, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, Flash crash, friendly AI, Google Glasses, hedonic treadmill, industrial robot, Internet of things, invention of agriculture, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, life extension, low skilled workers, Mahatma Gandhi, means of production, mutually assured destruction, Nicholas Carr, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer model, Peter Thiel, Ray Kurzweil, Rodney Brooks, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Skype, South Sea Bubble, speech recognition, Stanislav Petrov, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, strong AI, technological singularity, The Future of Employment, theory of mind, Turing machine, Turing test, universal basic income, Vernor Vinge, wage slave, Wall-E, zero-sum game

It will mark the end of our long reign as the only species on this planet capable of abstract thought, sophisticated communication, and scientific endeavour. In a very important sense, it will mean that we are no longer alone in this huge, dark universe. As British journalist Andrew Marr said in the conclusion of his epic 2013 TV documentary series, History of the World, “it would be the greatest achievement of humanity since the invention of agriculture.” But it is the arrival of superintelligence – not AGI – which would be, in Stephen Hawking’s famous words, “the best or worst thing ever to happen to humanity.” An AGI with human levels of cognitive ability (if perhaps rather better at mental arithmetic) would be a technological marvel, and a harbinger of things to come. It is superintelligence which would be the game-changer. We saw in chapter 4 that the ratio between neocortex and other brain areas in humans is twice that of chimpanzees, and that this may be what gives us our undoubted intellectual advantage over them.


pages: 421 words: 125,417

Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet by Jeffrey Sachs

agricultural Revolution, air freight, back-to-the-land, British Empire, business process, carbon footprint, clean water, colonial rule, corporate social responsibility, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, demographic transition, Diane Coyle, Edward Glaeser, energy security, failed state, Gini coefficient, global pandemic, Haber-Bosch Process, income inequality, income per capita, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), intermodal, invention of agriculture, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, low skilled workers, mass immigration, microcredit, oil shale / tar sands, old age dependency ratio, peak oil, profit maximization, profit motive, purchasing power parity, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, Simon Kuznets, Skype, statistical model, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, trade route, transaction costs, unemployed young men, War on Poverty, women in the workforce, working-age population

In spite of all we have accomplished through science and technology—indeed because of it—we will soon run out of margin. Now is the time to grasp exactly what is happening. The evidence is compelling: we need to redesign our social and economic policies before we wreck this planet. At stake is humankind’s one shot at a permanently bright future. Modern humanity was born, so to speak, about ten thousand years ago with the invention of agriculture and the villages and political hierarchies that soon followed. Up to that point our species had perfected hunter technology enough to wipe out a large part of Earth’s largest mammals and birds—the megafauna—but it left most of the vegetated land surface and all of the oceans intact. The economic history that followed can be summarized very succinctly as follows: people used every means they could devise to convert the resources of Earth into wealth.

Even in this early phase of human existence (indeed, even before modern humans emerged), our ancestors began to alter the landscape to tilt the advantage toward human needs at the expense of other species. There is evidence that humans, and even protohumans, used fire to alter their landscapes in order to convert forests to grasslands and to facilitate hunting. These earliest steps of our species foretold the pattern that brings us to the ecological challenge of the twenty-first century. The decisive breakthrough in human populations came not with fire, but with the invention of agriculture, around ten thousand years ago. The shift to agriculture represented a qualitative change in the natural order, one whose consequences are still being played out. In an agricultural system, the land is cleared of natural communities of plants and animals so that the solar energy can be appropriated by human beings in a more direct manner. Photosynthesis is directed toward foodstuffs directly consumed by humans, or foodstuffs consumed by domesticated animals that are directly consumed by humans.


pages: 740 words: 217,139

The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution by Francis Fukuyama

Admiral Zheng, agricultural Revolution, Andrei Shleifer, Asian financial crisis, Ayatollah Khomeini, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, blood diamonds, California gold rush, cognitive dissonance, colonial rule, conceptual framework, correlation does not imply causation, currency manipulation / currency intervention, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, double entry bookkeeping, endogenous growth, equal pay for equal work, European colonialism, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Francisco Pizarro, Hernando de Soto, hiring and firing, invention of agriculture, invention of the printing press, Khyber Pass, land reform, land tenure, means of production, offshore financial centre, out of africa, Peace of Westphalia, principal–agent problem, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, Right to Buy, Scramble for Africa, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), spice trade, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, trade route, transaction costs, Washington Consensus, zero-sum game

The domestication of wild grasses and seeds took place gradually and was accompanied by large increases in population. While it might seem logical that new food technologies drove higher population densities, Ester Boserup has argued that the causality went the other way around.24 Either way, the social impact was enormous. Depending on climatic conditions, hunter-gatherer societies have a population density from 0.1 to 1 person per square kilometer, while the invention of agriculture permits densities to rise to 40–60 per square kilometer.25 Human beings were now in contact with one another on a much broader scale, and this required a very different form of social organization. The terms “tribes,” “clans,” “kindreds,” and “lineages” are all used to describe the next stage of social organization above the band. These terms are often used with considerable imprecision, even by anthropologists whose bread and butter it is to study them.

The Hundred and the Thingman disappeared as juridical institutions, but survived, as we will see, as instruments of local government that would eventually emerge as units of modern democratic representation. WARFARE AND MILITARY ORGANIZATION I have thus far theorized little about why human beings made the transition from band-level to tribal societies, except to say that it was historically associated with the increased productivity made possible by the invention of agriculture. Agriculture made possible higher population densities, which in turn created a need for organizing societies on a larger scale. Agriculture also created the need for private property, which then became heavily intertwined with complex kinship structures, as we have seen. But there is another reason that human beings transitioned to tribal societies: the problem of warfare. The development of settled agricultural societies meant that human groups were now living in much closer proximity.

But economic life in Han Dynasty China resembled the world described by Thomas Malthus in his Essay on the Principle of Population much more than the world that has existed since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution of the last two hundred years.6 Today, we expect increases in labor productivity (output per person) as the result of technological innovation and change. But before 1800, productivity gains were much more episodic. The invention of agriculture, the use of irrigation, the invention of the printing press, gunpowder, and long-distance sailing ships all led to productivity gains,7 but between them there were prolonged periods when population growth increased and per capita income fell. Many agrarian societies were operating at the frontier of their technological production possibilities, where further investment would not yield higher output.


pages: 474 words: 136,787

The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature by Matt Ridley

affirmative action, Alfred Russel Wallace, assortative mating, Atahualpa, Bonfire of the Vanities, demographic transition, double helix, Drosophila, feminist movement, invention of agriculture, Menlo Park, phenotype, rent control, theory of mind, twin studies, University of East Anglia, women in the workforce, zero-sum game

A lucky hunter kills more than he can eat, so he loses little by sharing it with his companions; he gains a lot, for next time, when he is unlucky, the favour will be repaid by those with whom he shared the meat. Trading favours in this way was the ancient ancestor of the monetary economy. But because meat could not be stored and because luck did not last, accumulation of wealth was not possible in hunter-gatherer societies.30 With the invention of agriculture, the opportunity for some males to be polygamous arrived with a vengeance. Farming opened the way for one man to grow much more powerful than his peers by accumulating a surplus of food, whether grain or domestic animals, with which to buy the labour of other men. The labour of other men allowed him to increase his surplus still further. For the first time, having wealth was the best way to get wealth.

The best they could hope for in the Pleistocene was one or two faithful wives and a few affairs if their hunting or political skills were especially great. The best they can hope for now is a good-looking younger mistress and a devoted wife who is traded in every decade or so. We’re back to square one. This chapter has kept its focus resolutely on the male. In doing so it may seem to have trampled on the rights of women by ignoring them and their wishes. But then so did men for many generations after the invention of agriculture. Before agriculture and since democracy, such chauvinism was impossible; the mating system of mankind, like that of other animals was a compromise between the strategies of males and females. And it is a curious truth that the monogamous marriage bond survived right through despotic Babylon, lascivious Greece, promiscuous Rome and adulterous Christendom to emerge as the core of the family in the industrial age.


pages: 503 words: 131,064

Liars and Outliers: How Security Holds Society Together by Bruce Schneier

airport security, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, Brian Krebs, Broken windows theory, carried interest, Cass Sunstein, Chelsea Manning, commoditize, corporate governance, crack epidemic, credit crunch, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Graeber, desegregation, don't be evil, Double Irish / Dutch Sandwich, Douglas Hofstadter, experimental economics, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, George Akerlof, hydraulic fracturing, impulse control, income inequality, invention of agriculture, invention of gunpowder, iterative process, Jean Tirole, John Nash: game theory, joint-stock company, Julian Assange, longitudinal study, mass incarceration, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microcredit, moral hazard, mutually assured destruction, Nate Silver, Network effects, Nick Leeson, offshore financial centre, patent troll, phenotype, pre–internet, principal–agent problem, prisoner's dilemma, profit maximization, profit motive, race to the bottom, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, RFID, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, Ronald Coase, security theater, shareholder value, slashdot, statistical model, Steven Pinker, Stuxnet, technological singularity, The Market for Lemons, The Nature of the Firm, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, too big to fail, traffic fines, transaction costs, ultimatum game, UNCLOS, union organizing, Vernor Vinge, WikiLeaks, World Values Survey, Y2K, zero-sum game

Stage three is much more recent; around 500,000 or 400,000 years ago, humans became dependent on group hunting, and started exhibiting long-term care for the injured and the infirm. Stage four occurred in modern humans starting 120,000 years ago, when compassion extended to strangers, animals, and sometimes even objects: religious objects, antiques, family heirlooms, etc. It probably didn't extend much past groups bigger than the Dunbar number of 150 until the invention of agriculture, about 10,000 years ago—I guess that's a fifth stage. Still, that doesn't tell us how or why it eventually did. There are two basic types of non-kin cooperation. The first is mutualism.10 In some species, unrelated individuals cooperate because together they can perform tasks they couldn't do by themselves. A pack might hunt together because it can kill larger prey than the members could individually.

war of all against all Thomas Hobbes (1651), Leviathan, Printed for Andrew Crooke, at the Green Dragon in St. Paul's Churchyard. compassion extended Penny Spikins, Holly Rutherford, and Andy Needham (2010), “From Homininity to Humanity: Compassion from the Earliest Archaic to Modern Humans,” Time and Mind, 3:303–25. Priyali Rajagopal and Nicole Votolato Montgomery (2011), “I Imagine, I Experience, I Like: The False Experience Effect,” The Journal of Consumer Research, 38:578–94. invention of agriculture Robert Boyd and Peter Richerson (2004), Not by Genes Alone: How Culture Transformed Human Evolution, University of Chicago Press. Unrelated elephants Joshua M. Plotnik, Richard Lair, Wirot Suphachoksahakun, and Frans de Waal (2011), “Elephants Know When They Need a Helping Trunk in a Cooperative Task,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, published online before print.


pages: 225 words: 54,010

A Short History of Progress by Ronald Wright

Albert Einstein, Atahualpa, Bretton Woods, British Empire, clean water, Columbian Exchange, cuban missile crisis, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Haber-Bosch Process, Hernando de Soto, invention of agriculture, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, land reform, Mahatma Gandhi, mass immigration, nuclear winter, out of africa, Parkinson's law, Ronald Reagan, Thomas Malthus, urban sprawl

These usually act together.1 The Sumerians’ irrigation was certainly a runaway train, a disastrous course from which they could not deviate; the rulers’ failure to tackle the problem qualifies them as dinosaurs, and the civilization’s swift and irreparable fall shows it to have been a house of cards. Much the same can be said of the other failures. We are faced by something deeper than mistakes at any particular time or place. The invention of agriculture is itself a runaway train, leading to vastly expanded populations but seldom solving the food problem because of two inevitable (or nearly inevitable) consequences. The first is biological: the population grows until it hits the bounds of the food supply. The second is social: all civilizations become hierarchical; the upward concentration of wealth ensures that there can never be enough to go around.


pages: 462 words: 150,129

The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves by Matt Ridley

"Robert Solow", 23andMe, agricultural Revolution, air freight, back-to-the-land, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, British Empire, call centre, carbon footprint, Cesare Marchetti: Marchetti’s constant, charter city, clean water, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, collateralized debt obligation, colonial exploitation, colonial rule, Corn Laws, creative destruction, credit crunch, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, decarbonisation, dematerialisation, demographic dividend, demographic transition, double entry bookkeeping, Edward Glaeser, en.wikipedia.org, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, falling living standards, feminist movement, financial innovation, Flynn Effect, food miles, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, Hans Rosling, happiness index / gross national happiness, haute cuisine, hedonic treadmill, Hernando de Soto, income inequality, income per capita, Indoor air pollution, informal economy, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of agriculture, invisible hand, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, John Nash: game theory, joint-stock limited liability company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, Kula ring, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mutually assured destruction, Naomi Klein, Northern Rock, nuclear winter, oil shale / tar sands, out of africa, packet switching, patent troll, Pax Mongolica, Peter Thiel, phenotype, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, Productivity paradox, profit motive, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, Ray Kurzweil, rent-seeking, rising living standards, Silicon Valley, spice trade, spinning jenny, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, supervolcano, technological singularity, Thales and the olive presses, Thales of Miletus, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, trade route, transaction costs, ultimatum game, upwardly mobile, urban sprawl, Vernor Vinge, Vilfredo Pareto, wage slave, working poor, working-age population, Y2K, Yogi Berra, zero-sum game

But they were exchanging harder in this region than anywhere else, and it is a reasonable guess that one of the pressures to invent agriculture was to feed and profit from wealthy traders – to generate a surplus that could be exchanged for obsidian, shells or other more perishable goods. Trade came first. In the 1960s, Jane Jacobs suggested in her book The Economy of Cities that agriculture was invented to feed the first cities, rather than cities being made possible by the invention of agriculture. This goes too far, and archaeologists have discredited the idea of urban centres preceding the first farms. The largest permanent settlements of hunter-gatherers cannot be described as urban even among the fishermen of the Pacific coast of North America. None the less, there was a germ of truth in her idea: the first farmers were already enthusiastic traders breaking free of subsistence through exchange, and farming was just another expression of trade.

But once agriculture has provided the capital, increased the density of people, and given them a good reason for chop ping down trees, then there might be a market large enough to support a community of full-time copper smelters, so long as they can sell the copper to neighbouring tribes. Or, in the words of two theorists: ‘The denser societies made possible by agriculture can realize considerable returns to better exploitation of the potential of co-operation, co-ordination and the division of labour.’ Hence, the invention of metal smelting was an almost inevitable consequence of the invention of agriculture (though some very early mining of pure copper-metal deposits around Lake Superior was apparently done by hunter-gatherers, perhaps supplying the almost agricultural salmon ranchers of the Pacific coast). Copper was produced throughout the Alps, where some of the best ores are to be found, but it was exported to the rest of Europe for several thousand years after Oetzi’s death, only later being displaced by copper mined in Cyprus.


pages: 936 words: 252,313

Good Calories, Bad Calories: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom on Diet, Weight Control, and Disease by Gary Taubes

Albert Einstein, California gold rush, cognitive dissonance, collaborative editing, Drosophila, Everything should be made as simple as possible, experimental subject, Gary Taubes, invention of agriculture, John Snow's cholera map, longitudinal study, meta analysis, meta-analysis, phenotype, placebo effect, Ralph Nader, randomized controlled trial, Richard Feynman, Robert Gordon, selection bias, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, twin studies, unbiased observer, Upton Sinclair

It requires that we make assumptions about what is safe and what might cause harm, and what constitutes “biological normality” and “unnatural factors.” The evidence for those assumptions will always depend as much on the observers’ preconceptions and belief system as on any objective reality. By defining “biological normality” as “the conditions to which presumably we are genetically adapted,” Rose was saying that the healthiest diet is (presumably) the diet we evolved to eat. That is the diet we consumed prior to the invention of agriculture, during the two million years of the Paleolithic era—99 percent of evolutionary history—when our ancestors were hunters and gatherers. “There has been no time for significant further genetic adaptation,” as the nutritionists Nevin Scrimshaw of MIT and William Dietz of the Centers for Disease Control noted in 1995. Any changes to this Paleolithic diet can be considered “unnatural factors,” and so cannot be prescribed as a public-health recommendation.

But it depended now on an assumption about human evolution that was contradicted by the anthropologic evidence itself—that human history was dominated by what Jared Diamond had called the “conditions of unpredictably alternating feast and famine that characterized the traditional human lifestyle.” Reasonable as this may seem, we have no evidence that food was ever any harder to come by for humans than for any other organisms on the planet, at least not until our ancestors began radically reshaping their environment ten thousand years ago, with the invention of agriculture. Both the anthropological remains and the eyewitness testimony of early European explorers suggest that much of the planet, prior to the last century or two, was a “paradise for hunting,” in the words of the Emory University anthropologist Melvin Konner and his collaborators, with a diversity of game, both large and small, “present in almost unimaginable numbers.”*72 Though famines have certainly been documented among hunter-gatherer populations more recently, there’s little reason to believe that this happened prior to the industrial revolution.

This makes the science even more complicated than it already is, but these are serious considerations that should be taken into account when discussing a healthy diet. There is no such ambiguity, however, on the subject of carbohydrates. The most dramatic alterations in human diets in the past two million years, unequivocally, are (1) the transition from carbohydrate-poor to carbohydrate-rich diets that came with the invention of agriculture—the addition of grains and easily digestible starches to the diets of hunter-gatherers; (2) the increasing refinement of those carbohydrates over the past few hundred years; and (3) the dramatic increases in fructose consumption that came as the per-capita consumption of sugars—sucrose and now high-fructose corn syrup—increased from less than ten or twenty pounds a year in the mid-eighteenth century to the nearly 150 pounds it is today.


pages: 231 words: 72,656

A History of the World in 6 Glasses by Tom Standage

Berlin Wall, British Empire, Colonization of Mars, Copley Medal, Edmond Halley, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, Eratosthenes, European colonialism, interchangeable parts, invention of agriculture, Isaac Newton, joint-stock company, Kickstarter, laissez-faire capitalism, Lao Tzu, multiplanetary species, out of africa, South Sea Bubble, spice trade, spinning jenny, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade route, transatlantic slave trade

The drink that already lubricated China's immense empire could then conquer vast new territories: Having won over the British, tea spread throughout the world and became the most widely consumed beverage on Earth after water. The story of tea is the story of imperialism, industrialization, and world domination, one cup at a time. The Rise of Tea Culture According to Chinese tradition, the first cup of tea was brewed by the emperor Shen Nung, whose reign is traditionally dated to 2737-2697 BCE. He was the second of China's legendary emperors and was credited with the inventions of agriculture and the plow, along with the discovery of medicinal herbs. (Similarly, his predecessor, the first emperor, is said to have discovered fire, cooking, and music.) Legend has it that Shen Nung was boiling some water to drink, using some branches from a wild tea bush to fuel his fire, when a gust of wind carried some of the plant's leaves into his pot. He found the resulting infusion a delicate and refreshing drink.


pages: 237 words: 64,411

Humans Need Not Apply: A Guide to Wealth and Work in the Age of Artificial Intelligence by Jerry Kaplan

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Amazon Web Services, asset allocation, autonomous vehicles, bank run, bitcoin, Bob Noyce, Brian Krebs, business cycle, buy low sell high, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, combinatorial explosion, computer vision, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, estate planning, Flash crash, Gini coefficient, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, haute couture, hiring and firing, income inequality, index card, industrial robot, information asymmetry, invention of agriculture, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Loebner Prize, Mark Zuckerberg, mortgage debt, natural language processing, Own Your Own Home, pattern recognition, Satoshi Nakamoto, school choice, Schrödinger's Cat, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, software as a service, The Chicago School, The Future of Employment, Turing test, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, winner-take-all economy, women in the workforce, working poor, Works Progress Administration

But learning the new skills doesn’t happen overnight, and sometimes the redundant workers simply aren’t capable of adapting—that will have to wait for a new generation of workers. For an example of labor market transformation that we have weathered successfully, consider agriculture. As recently as the early 1800s, farms employed a remarkable 80 percent of U.S. workers.1Consider what this means. Producing food was by far the dominant thing people did for a living, and no doubt this pattern had been typical since the invention of agriculture about five thousand years ago. But by 1900, that figure had dropped in half, to 40 percent, and today it’s only 1.5 percent, including unpaid family and undocumented workers.2 Basically, we managed to automate nearly everyone out of a job, but instead of causing widespread unemployment, we freed people up for a host of other productive and wealth-producing activities. So over the last two centuries the U.S. economy was able to absorb on average about 1/2 percent loss of agricultural job opportunities each year without any obvious dislocations.


The Life and Death of Ancient Cities: A Natural History by Greg Woolf

agricultural Revolution, capital controls, Columbian Exchange, demographic transition, endogenous growth, Eratosthenes, European colonialism, global village, invention of agriculture, invention of writing, joint-stock company, mass immigration, megacity, New Urbanism, out of africa, Scramble for Africa, social intelligence, social web, trade route, urban planning, urban sprawl

The first human settlers of New Zealand or North America seem to have gorged on the prey species they found there, but once the megafauna were gone or drastically reduced in numbers, human populations did not collapse. They moved on to other foods. Early in the Holocene a one thousand-year-long cold snap, known as the Younger Dryas, may have provided the stimulus for one of the first inventions of agriculture. It happened in the Near East. From preserved plant and animal remains it is possible to reconstruct changes in the environment of a broad sweep of territory between the Mediterranean and the desert interior, from the modern borders of Egypt through Israel and Jordan to northern Syria. Largely arid today, between 13,000 and 8500 b.c.e. this was a landscape of open woodland bordering on upland steppe.

They adapted tools to help them clear land, to plant seeds, and to reduce the biodiversity of their fields. They organized themselves to work together, as they had worked together as hunters and as foragers. Other species faced with environmental degradation might have retreated to better territory, or simply collapsed in number. Our ancestors could do better than that. They stayed and farmed. The Natufian invention of agriculture is a very local story. Agriculture was invented many times around the globe, in radically different ecologies. Each local story must have been different, but there is a general pattern. Moves from intensive foraging to planting and farming took independently on at least a dozen occasions (that we know about so far). The first domestications took place in the Middle East 10,000 years ago (wheat and barley) and in Mesoamerica (pepo squash).


pages: 1,205 words: 308,891

Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can't Explain the Modern World by Deirdre N. McCloskey

Airbnb, Akira Okazaki, big-box store, Black Swan, book scanning, British Empire, business cycle, buy low sell high, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, clean water, Columbian Exchange, conceptual framework, correlation does not imply causation, Costa Concordia, creative destruction, crony capitalism, dark matter, Dava Sobel, David Graeber, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, Donald Trump, double entry bookkeeping, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, Erik Brynjolfsson, experimental economics, Ferguson, Missouri, fundamental attribution error, Georg Cantor, George Akerlof, George Gilder, germ theory of disease, Gini coefficient, God and Mammon, greed is good, Gunnar Myrdal, Hans Rosling, Henry Ford's grandson gave labor union leader Walter Reuther a tour of the company’s new, automated factory…, Hernando de Soto, immigration reform, income inequality, interchangeable parts, invention of agriculture, invention of writing, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Islamic Golden Age, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, John Harrison: Longitude, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, knowledge economy, labor-force participation, lake wobegon effect, land reform, liberation theology, lone genius, Lyft, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, means of production, Naomi Klein, new economy, North Sea oil, Occupy movement, open economy, out of africa, Pareto efficiency, Paul Samuelson, Pax Mongolica, Peace of Westphalia, peak oil, Peter Singer: altruism, Philip Mirowski, pink-collar, plutocrats, Plutocrats, positional goods, profit maximization, profit motive, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, refrigerator car, rent control, rent-seeking, Republic of Letters, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Scientific racism, Scramble for Africa, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, Simon Kuznets, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, spinning jenny, stakhanovite, Steve Jobs, The Chicago School, The Market for Lemons, the rule of 72, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, total factor productivity, Toyota Production System, transaction costs, transatlantic slave trade, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, uber lyft, union organizing, very high income, wage slave, Washington Consensus, working poor, Yogi Berra

The British Industrial Revolution was a glorious start. All credit is due. Yet such novelty-rich revolutions had happened occasionally before, in fifth-century Athens or twelfth-century Song China or fifteenth-century Italy.15 What differed this last time was the follow-on, the explosive Great Enrichment of ordinary people, arising from the loosening a Great Chain of Being that had trammeled most humans since the invention of agriculture, keeping men in hand-and-back work and women in arranged marriages. After the loosening and the consequent Enrichment, the son of a freight conductor could became a professor of government at Harvard, the son of a tailor a professor of law at Yale, the daughter of a conservative Southern lawyer a liberal professor of law, philosophy, and classics at the University of Chicago. Why? The causes were not (to pick from the apparently inexhaustible list of materialist factors promoted by this or that economist or economic historian) coal, thrift, transport, high male wages, low female and child wages, surplus value, human capital, geography, railways, institutions, infrastructure, nationalism, the quickening of commerce, the late medieval run-up, Renaissance individualism, the First Divergence, the Black Death, American silver, the original accumulation of capital, piracy, empire, eugenic improvement, the mathematization of celestial mechanics, technical education, or a perfection of property rights.

But the judgment about whether the System has worked for ordinary people, and why or why not, is too important to leave to personal fancy or to prideful skepticism or to a political identity adopted in late adolescence, never to be reconsidered in the light of new evidence or mature understanding, reaffirmed daily by the particular group of shouters and sneerers we tune into on cable TV. If we are to help the remaining poor of the world, as ethically speaking we should, the political judgment needs to be made soberly and scientifically. The Great Enrichment is the most important secular event since the invention of agriculture. It has restarted history. It will end poverty, as for a good part of humankind it already has. Surprisingly, though, economists and historians from left or right or center can’t explain it. Perhaps their sciences and their politics need revision. * Our great-great-great-great-great-great-grandparents were very poor, which had in turn been the lot of their ancestors since time out of mind.

For nearly all of humanity’s time on earth the average amount of food and education and antibiotics and the rest per person stayed at subsistence, at $1 or $3 or $5 a day expressed in today’s prices, or in exceptional times, briefly, $6 or $8 a day. Thus it had been, in 1800, during the two thousand or so centuries since the mitochondrial Eve (and about the same span, as has recently been discovered, since her good friend the Y-chromosome Adam19). Or during the thousand or so centuries since the invention of full language. Or during the hundred or so centuries since the invention of agriculture. Or during the eight or so centuries since commerce had revived in the West. Or during the three or so centuries since Europeans had ventured by sea to Africa and India and the New World. Pick whatever period down to 1800 you want. For a long, long time nothing much happened to the economic misery of the average Jill. She and her friend Jack could perhaps trap or purchase a little meat to go with their bread, or pick nuts to go with their grubs, but they lived in a wretched little hovel, or a tent, or a cave.


pages: 273 words: 83,186

The botany of desire: a plant's-eye view of the world by Michael Pollan

back-to-the-land, clean water, David Attenborough, double entry bookkeeping, double helix, Francisco Pizarro, invention of agriculture, Joseph Schumpeter, mandatory minimum, Maui Hawaii, means of production, paper trading, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Steven Pinker

Plants began evolving burrs that attach to animal fur like Velcro, flowers that seduce honeybees in order to powder their thighs with pollen, and acorns that squirrels obligingly taxi from one forest to another, bury, and then, just often enough, forget to eat. Even evolution evolves. About ten thousand years ago the world witnessed a second flowering of plant diversity that we would come to call, somewhat self-centeredly, “the invention of agriculture.” A group of angiosperms refined their basic put-the-animals-to-work strategy to take advantage of one particular animal that had evolved not only to move freely around the earth, but to think and trade complicated thoughts. These plants hit on a remarkably clever strategy: getting us to move and think for them. Now came edible grasses (such as wheat and corn) that incited humans to cut down vast forests to make more room for them; flowers whose beauty would transfix whole cultures; plants so compelling and useful and tasty they would inspire human beings to seed, transport, extol, and even write books about them.


pages: 282 words: 80,907

Who Gets What — and Why: The New Economics of Matchmaking and Market Design by Alvin E. Roth

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, algorithmic trading, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, Build a better mousetrap, centralized clearinghouse, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, commoditize, computer age, computerized markets, crowdsourcing, deferred acceptance, desegregation, experimental economics, first-price auction, Flash crash, High speed trading, income inequality, Internet of things, invention of agriculture, invisible hand, Jean Tirole, law of one price, Lyft, market clearing, market design, medical residency, obamacare, proxy bid, road to serfdom, school choice, sealed-bid auction, second-price auction, second-price sealed-bid, Silicon Valley, spectrum auction, Spread Networks laid a new fibre optics cable between New York and Chicago, Steve Jobs, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, two-sided market, uber lyft, undersea cable

The computer can then run through offer-rejection-offer chains fast enough that there’s time for every offer that someone wants to make to be made. The key to such a clearinghouse is making it safe for people to state their preferences honestly. So before I start to describe the clearinghouses we’ve built, let’s talk more about safety. 7 Too Risky: Trust, Safety, and Simplicity MAKING MARKETS SAFE is one of the oldest problems of market design, going back to well before the invention of agriculture, when hunters traded the ax heads and arrowheads that archaeologists today find thousands of miles from where they were made. More recently, one of the responsibilities of kings in medieval Europe was to provide safe passage to and from markets and fairs. For healthy commerce, buyers and sellers needed to be able to participate in these markets safely, without being waylaid and robbed (or worse) by highwaymen.


pages: 304 words: 80,143

The Autonomous Revolution: Reclaiming the Future We’ve Sold to Machines by William Davidow, Michael Malone

2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, agricultural Revolution, Airbnb, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, Automated Insights, autonomous vehicles, basic income, bitcoin, blockchain, blue-collar work, Bob Noyce, business process, call centre, cashless society, citizen journalism, Clayton Christensen, collaborative consumption, collaborative economy, collective bargaining, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, disintermediation, disruptive innovation, distributed ledger, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Filter Bubble, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, gig economy, Gini coefficient, Hyperloop, income inequality, industrial robot, Internet of things, invention of agriculture, invention of movable type, invention of the printing press, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Joseph Schumpeter, license plate recognition, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, Network effects, new economy, peer-to-peer lending, QWERTY keyboard, ransomware, Richard Florida, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sharing economy, Shoshana Zuboff, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, Snapchat, speech recognition, Stuxnet, TaskRabbit, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, the scientific method, trade route, Turing test, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, universal basic income, uranium enrichment, urban planning, zero day, zero-sum game, Zipcar

Not until the Industrial Revolution were people paid for going to work rather than selling their production directly. Two belief systems that emerged during this epoch, Christianity and Islam, were part of widespread social phase change. They transformed the way large portions of the world were governed. The new tools they used to control behavior were ideas of redemption and eternal life as opposed to force. Printing was the first major general-purpose technology to emerge after the invention of agriculture, and it powered the first modern communications revolution. The printing press and movable type, invented by Johannes Gutenberg around 1440,19 made mass communication possible, democratizing the spread of information. Until Gutenberg, the Catholic Church had produced a large proportion of books. Monasteries had scriptoriums where large numbers of monks copied texts. Because books were so difficult and costly to produce, the church was able to exert high levels of control over thought and ideas.


pages: 294 words: 96,661

The Fourth Age: Smart Robots, Conscious Computers, and the Future of Humanity by Byron Reese

agricultural Revolution, AI winter, artificial general intelligence, basic income, Buckminster Fuller, business cycle, business process, Claude Shannon: information theory, clean water, cognitive bias, computer age, crowdsourcing, dark matter, Elon Musk, Eratosthenes, estate planning, financial independence, first square of the chessboard, first square of the chessboard / second half of the chessboard, full employment, Hans Rosling, income inequality, invention of agriculture, invention of movable type, invention of the printing press, invention of writing, Isaac Newton, Islamic Golden Age, James Hargreaves, job automation, Johannes Kepler, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, lateral thinking, life extension, Louis Pasteur, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Mary Lou Jepsen, Moravec's paradox, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, pattern recognition, profit motive, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Rodney Brooks, Sam Altman, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Skype, spinning jenny, Stephen Hawking, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, strong AI, technological singularity, telepresence, telepresence robot, The Future of Employment, the scientific method, Turing machine, Turing test, universal basic income, Von Neumann architecture, Wall-E, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, women in the workforce, working poor, Works Progress Administration, Y Combinator

As the historian Will Durant points out, you get to pick only one, because you can’t have them both. People truly free will become unequal. People with equality forced on them are not free. This tug-of-war still plays out today. Earlier, I referred to imagination as the first requisite for progress. Agriculture gave us the second. Since planting and harvesting crops required planning in a way that hunting and gathering did not, we can think of the invention of agriculture as the invention of the idea of the future, which is the second requisite for progress. 3 * * * The Third Age: Writing and Wheels Fire let us cook food, giving us our brains, which in turn produced language, allowing us to work together, form abstract thoughts, and create stories. Ten thousand years ago, agriculture let us settle down, build cities, and accumulate wealth.


The Ecotechnic Future: Envisioning a Post-Peak World by John Michael Greer

back-to-the-land, Black Swan, clean water, Community Supported Agriculture, David Strachan, deindustrialization, European colonialism, Extropian, failed state, feminist movement, financial innovation, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, George Santayana, hydrogen economy, hygiene hypothesis, illegal immigration, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of agriculture, mass immigration, McMansion, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, post-industrial society, Project for a New American Century, Ray Kurzweil, Stewart Brand, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, upwardly mobile, Whole Earth Catalog, Y2K

Martin’s, 1992. 2. Jared Diamond, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, Penguin, 2005, is the classic ecological analysis. 3. Odum, Fundamentals of Ecology, provides the model of succession on which this section is based. 4. This way of approaching the history of agriculture differs sharply, of course, from the version common in alternative circles these days, which interprets the invention of agriculture as a form of “original sin” — ​sometimes quite literally; see, for example, Daniel Quinn, Ishmael, Bantam, 1992. See Colin Tudge, Neanderthals, Bandits, and Farmers: The Origins of Agriculture, Yale University Press, 1998, for a survey of recent (and less polemical) scholarship on the origins of agriculture, on which this section is based. 5. Ernest Callenbach, Ecotopia, Banyan Tress, 1975, is the classic example.


pages: 606 words: 87,358

The Great Convergence: Information Technology and the New Globalization by Richard Baldwin

"Robert Solow", 3D printing, additive manufacturing, Admiral Zheng, agricultural Revolution, air freight, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Berlin Wall, bilateral investment treaty, Branko Milanovic, buy low sell high, call centre, Columbian Exchange, commoditize, Commodity Super-Cycle, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, domestication of the camel, Edward Glaeser, endogenous growth, Erik Brynjolfsson, financial intermediation, George Gilder, global supply chain, global value chain, Henri Poincaré, imperial preference, industrial cluster, industrial robot, intangible asset, invention of agriculture, invention of the telegraph, investor state dispute settlement, Isaac Newton, Islamic Golden Age, James Dyson, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, Lao Tzu, low skilled workers, market fragmentation, mass immigration, Metcalfe’s law, New Economic Geography, out of africa, paper trading, Paul Samuelson, Pax Mongolica, profit motive, rent-seeking, reshoring, Richard Florida, rising living standards, Robert Metcalfe, Second Machine Age, Simon Kuznets, Skype, Snapchat, Stephen Hawking, telepresence, telerobotics, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade liberalization, trade route, Washington Consensus

As the population rose and fell, the search for additional food expanded and contracted humanity’s geographic range. For seventy-five millennia or so, this consumption-moving-to-production happened only in Africa. This chapter first relates the story of how humans hunted and gathered their way across the globe in Phase One. It then turns to explaining how the nature of globalization changed radically when a large share of humans got “stuck” in certain locales after the invention of agriculture. Phase One: Humanizing the Globe The detailed timing of modern humans moving beyond Africa is not fully understood, but it was certainly not linear. Given the close ties between climate, food, and population—and the vast climate change going on during this period (Figure 4)—humanity’s dispersion quite naturally waxed and waned. Archaeological evidence shows that one group exited Africa during the last really warm period—something like 125,000 years ago.


pages: 377 words: 97,144

Singularity Rising: Surviving and Thriving in a Smarter, Richer, and More Dangerous World by James D. Miller

23andMe, affirmative action, Albert Einstein, artificial general intelligence, Asperger Syndrome, barriers to entry, brain emulation, cloud computing, cognitive bias, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Brooks, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Deng Xiaoping, en.wikipedia.org, feminist movement, Flynn Effect, friendly AI, hive mind, impulse control, indoor plumbing, invention of agriculture, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, knowledge worker, Long Term Capital Management, low skilled workers, Netflix Prize, neurotypical, Norman Macrae, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, phenotype, placebo effect, prisoner's dilemma, profit maximization, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, Silicon Valley, Singularitarianism, Skype, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, supervolcano, technological singularity, The Coming Technological Singularity, the scientific method, Thomas Malthus, transaction costs, Turing test, twin studies, Vernor Vinge, Von Neumann architecture

FURTHER IMPLICATIONS OF A SINGULARITY From the time of Alexander the Great up to that of George Washington, the lot of the average person didn’t much change because there was little economic growth. On average, a man lived no better than his great-grandfathers did. But shortly after Washington’s death, an industrial revolution swept England that married science to business. The Industrial Revolution was the most important turning point in history since the invention of agriculture because it created sustained economic growth arising from innovation—the creation of new and improved goods and services. Innovation, and therefore economic growth, comes from human brains. Think of our economy as a car. Before the Industrial Revolution, the car was as likely to move backward as forward. The Industrial Revolution gave us an engine powered by human brains. Technologies that increase human intelligence could supercharge this engine.


pages: 343 words: 101,563

The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming by David Wallace-Wells

"Robert Solow", agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, anthropic principle, Asian financial crisis, augmented reality, basic income, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carbon footprint, carbon-based life, cognitive bias, computer age, correlation does not imply causation, cryptocurrency, cuban missile crisis, decarbonisation, Donald Trump, effective altruism, Elon Musk, endowment effect, energy transition, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, failed state, fiat currency, global pandemic, global supply chain, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of agriculture, Joan Didion, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, labor-force participation, life extension, longitudinal study, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, megacity, megastructure, mutually assured destruction, Naomi Klein, nuclear winter, Pearl River Delta, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, postindustrial economy, quantitative easing, Ray Kurzweil, rent-seeking, ride hailing / ride sharing, Sam Altman, Silicon Valley, Skype, South China Sea, South Sea Bubble, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, the built environment, the scientific method, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, universal basic income, University of East Anglia, Whole Earth Catalog, William Langewiesche, Y Combinator

If we delay another decade, it will require us to cut emissions by 30 percent each year. This is why U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres believes we have only one year to change course and get started. The scale of the technological transformation required dwarfs any achievement that has emerged from Silicon Valley—in fact dwarfs every technological revolution ever engineered in human history, including electricity and telecommunications and even the invention of agriculture ten thousand years ago. It dwarfs them by definition, because it contains all of them—every single one needs to be replaced at the root, since every single one breathes on carbon, like a ventilator. To remake each of these systems so that they don’t is less like distributing smartphones or floating wifi balloons over Kenya or Puerto Rico, as Google intends to, than like building an interstate highway system or constructing a subway network or a new kind of power grid connected to a new array of energy producers and new kind of energy consumer.


Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television by Jerry Mander

Alistair Cooke, commoditize, conceptual framework, dematerialisation, full employment, invention of agriculture, Menlo Park, music of the spheres, placebo effect, profit motive, Ralph Nader, Ronald Reagan, sexual politics, Stewart Brand, the medium is the message, trickle-down economics

The child seeking to know how nature works finds only spray planes, automated threshers, and miles of rows of a single crop. Rooms insi{/e Rooms There are differences of opinion about what the critical mo- ments were that led human beings away fronl the primary forms of experience-between person and planet-into secondary, 66 THE WALLING OF AWARENESS mediated environments. Some go back as far as the control of fire, the domestication of animals, the invention of agriculture or the imposition of monotheism and patriarchy. In my opinion, however, the most significant recent moment came with the control of electricity for power, about four gen- erations ago. This made it possible to begin moving nearly all hunlan functions indoors, and made the outdoors more like indoors. In less than four generations out of an estimated one hun- dred thousand, we have fundanlcntally changed the nature of our interaction with the planet.


pages: 323 words: 95,939

Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now by Douglas Rushkoff

algorithmic trading, Andrew Keen, bank run, Benoit Mandelbrot, big-box store, Black Swan, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, business cycle, cashless society, citizen journalism, clockwork universe, cognitive dissonance, Credit Default Swap, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, disintermediation, Donald Trump, double helix, East Village, Elliott wave, European colonialism, Extropian, facts on the ground, Flash crash, game design, global pandemic, global supply chain, global village, Howard Rheingold, hypertext link, Inbox Zero, invention of agriculture, invention of hypertext, invisible hand, iterative process, John Nash: game theory, Kevin Kelly, laissez-faire capitalism, lateral thinking, Law of Accelerating Returns, loss aversion, mandelbrot fractal, Marshall McLuhan, Merlin Mann, Milgram experiment, mutually assured destruction, negative equity, Network effects, New Urbanism, Nicholas Carr, Norbert Wiener, Occupy movement, passive investing, pattern recognition, peak oil, price mechanism, prisoner's dilemma, Ralph Nelson Elliott, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), Silicon Valley, Skype, social graph, South Sea Bubble, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, supply-chain management, the medium is the message, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, Turing test, upwardly mobile, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks, Y2K, zero-sum game

These processes may be little more than artifacts of more primitive human societies, but they may also be essential coordinators of activity and behavior that we should think twice about overriding. Rather than being paced by our technologies, we can just as easily program our technologies to follow our own paces—or those of our enterprise’s remaining natural cycles. Or better than simply following along, technologies can sync to us and generate greater coherence for all of us in the process. After all, people have been achieving the benefit of sync since the invention of agriculture. Farmers learned that certain crops grow better in particular climates and seasons, so they plant the right seeds at the right times. Not only is the crop better and more bountiful when planting is organized in this fashion, but the fruits, vegetables, and grains available end up better matched to the human physiology’s needs during that season. Potatoes, yams, carrots, beets, and other root vegetables are in high supply during the winter months, providing sustained energy and generating warmth.


pages: 379 words: 108,129

An Optimist's Tour of the Future by Mark Stevenson

23andMe, Albert Einstein, Andy Kessler, augmented reality, bank run, carbon footprint, carbon-based life, clean water, computer age, decarbonisation, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, Elon Musk, flex fuel, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Hans Rosling, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, invention of agriculture, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, Kevin Kelly, Law of Accelerating Returns, Leonard Kleinrock, life extension, Louis Pasteur, low earth orbit, mutually assured destruction, Naomi Klein, off grid, packet switching, peak oil, pre–internet, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, smart cities, social intelligence, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, strong AI, the scientific method, Wall-E, X Prize

As the population rises we have two choices: find a way to increase carrying capacity; or fight (justifying the latter with some form of ideology). But what has this to do with nanotechnology? The same Stewart Brand who suggested the impacts of nanotechnology would be ‘revolutionary-times-revolutionary’ provides a link in his book Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto: Peace can break out, though, when carrying capacity is pushed up suddenly, as with the invention of agriculture, or newly effective bureaucracy, or remote trade or technological breakthroughs. Nanotechnology can potentially (and dramatically) increase carrying capacity and, crucially, the distribution of resources – because everyone has the raw materials needed to make whatever they need, including food. And, as Eric maintains, at the same speed at which nanotechnology offers us more inventive weapons, it’s offering a reason not to use them:‘Scenarios where the motivation is to win resources are incoherent.’


pages: 1,152 words: 266,246

Why the West Rules--For Now: The Patterns of History, and What They Reveal About the Future by Ian Morris

addicted to oil, Admiral Zheng, agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Arthur Eddington, Atahualpa, Berlin Wall, British Empire, Columbian Exchange, conceptual framework, cuban missile crisis, defense in depth, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, discovery of the americas, Doomsday Clock, en.wikipedia.org, falling living standards, Flynn Effect, Francisco Pizarro, global village, God and Mammon, hiring and firing, indoor plumbing, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of agriculture, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Kickstarter, Kitchen Debate, knowledge economy, market bubble, mass immigration, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, mutually assured destruction, New Journalism, out of africa, Peter Thiel, phenotype, pink-collar, place-making, purchasing power parity, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, Ronald Reagan, Scientific racism, sexual politics, Silicon Valley, Sinatra Doctrine, South China Sea, special economic zone, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, strong AI, The inhabitant of London could order by telephone, sipping his morning tea in bed, the various products of the whole earth, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, trade route, upwardly mobile, wage slave, washing machines reduced drudgery

They tend to focus on the last few generations, looking back at most five hundred years and treating earlier history briefly, if at all—even though the main issue at dispute is whether the factors that gave the West dominance were already present in earlier times or appeared abruptly in the modern age. A handful of thinkers approach the question very differently, focusing on distant prehistory then skipping ahead to the modern age, saying little about the thousands of years in between. The geographer and historian Alfred Crosby makes explicit what many of these scholars take for granted—that the prehistoric invention of agriculture was critically important, but “between that era and [the] time of development of the societies that sent Columbus and other voyagers across the oceans, roughly 4,000 years passed, during which little of importance happened, relative to what had gone before.” This, I think, is mistaken. We will not find answers if we restrict our search to prehistory or modern times (nor, I hasten to add, would we find them if we limited ourselves to just the four or five millennia in between).

Hard as it is to get our minds around the idea, the trends of the last couple of centuries are leading toward a change in what it means to be human, making possible the vast cities, astonishing energy levels, apocalyptic weapons, and science-fiction kinds of information technology implied by social development scores of five thousand points. This book has been full of upheavals in which social development jumped upward, rendering irrelevant many of the problems that had dominated the lives of earlier generations. The evolution of Homo sapiens swept away all previous ape-men; the invention of agriculture made many of the burning issues of hunter-gatherer life unimportant; and the rise of cities and states did the same to the concerns of prehistoric villagers. The closing of the steppe highway and the opening of the oceans ended realities that had constrained Old World development for two thousand years, and the industrial revolution of course made mockery of all that had gone before. These revolutions have been accelerating, building on one another to drive social development up further and faster each time.


pages: 913 words: 265,787

How the Mind Works by Steven Pinker

affirmative action, agricultural Revolution, Alfred Russel Wallace, Buckminster Fuller, cognitive dissonance, Columbine, combinatorial explosion, complexity theory, computer age, computer vision, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, delayed gratification, double helix, experimental subject, feminist movement, four colour theorem, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, hedonic treadmill, Henri Poincaré, income per capita, information retrieval, invention of agriculture, invention of the wheel, Johannes Kepler, John von Neumann, lake wobegon effect, lateral thinking, Machine translation of "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." to Russian and back, Mikhail Gorbachev, Murray Gell-Mann, mutually assured destruction, Necker cube, out of africa, pattern recognition, phenotype, plutocrats, Plutocrats, random walk, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, Rubik’s Cube, Saturday Night Live, scientific worldview, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, sexual politics, social intelligence, Steven Pinker, theory of mind, Thorstein Veblen, Turing machine, urban decay, Yogi Berra

In everyday usage the word refers to bestowing favors on relatives (literally, “nephews”) as a perquisite of a job or social rank. Institutional nepotism is officially illicit in our society, though it is widely practiced, and in most societies people are surprised to hear that we consider it a vice. In many countries a newly appointed official openly fires all the civil servants under him and replaces them with relatives. Relatives are natural allies, and before the invention of agriculture and cities, societies were organized around clans of them. One of the fundamental questions of anthropology is how foraging people divide themselves into bands or villages, typically with about fifty members though varying with the time and place. Napoleon Chagnon amassed meticulous genealogies that link thousands of members of the Yanomamö, the foraging and horticultural people of the Amazon rainforest whom he has studied for thirty years.

Wealthy and prestigious men have more than one wife; ne’er-do-wells have none. Typically a man who has been married for some time seeks a younger wife. The senior wife remains his confidante and partner and runs the household; the junior one becomes his sexual interest. In foraging societies wealth cannot accumulate, but a few fierce men, skilled leaders, and good hunters may have two to ten wives. With the invention of agriculture and massive inequality, polygyny can reach ridiculous proportions. Laura Betzig has documented that in civilization after civilization, despotic men have implemented the ultimate male fantasy: a harem of hundreds of nubile women, closely guarded (often by eunuchs) so no other man can touch them. Similar arrangements have popped up in India, China, the Islamic world, sub-Saharan Africa, and the Americas.


pages: 393 words: 115,263

Planet Ponzi by Mitch Feierstein

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Albert Einstein, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, break the buck, centre right, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, disintermediation, diversification, Donald Trump, energy security, eurozone crisis, financial innovation, financial intermediation, fixed income, Flash crash, floating exchange rates, frictionless, frictionless market, high net worth, High speed trading, illegal immigration, income inequality, interest rate swap, invention of agriculture, light touch regulation, Long Term Capital Management, low earth orbit, mega-rich, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage debt, negative equity, Northern Rock, obamacare, offshore financial centre, oil shock, pensions crisis, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, price anchoring, price stability, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, risk tolerance, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, value at risk, yield curve

I don’t know how the world will look in 1.5 billion years’ time, but 1.5 billion years ago, the planet was in the middle of the Proterozoic Eon. The planet hadn’t too long ago encountered its first multicellular organisms and the big new thing was fungi. There were no plants. No vertebrates or invertebrates. Dinosaurs lay way, way into the future. Ditto mammals. Double ditto humanity. Triple ditto the invention of agriculture, the first cities, the origin of writing. And from that unimaginably distant point to this, you and your partner would need to toil away, earning $50,000 a year, not one penny of which you could keep, in order to generate the funds needed to pay off the US government’s debt.8 At this point, however, I need to come clean. I don’t believe these stats. With one exception, every element in the table above comes from official government data.


pages: 405 words: 117,219

In Our Own Image: Savior or Destroyer? The History and Future of Artificial Intelligence by George Zarkadakis

3D printing, Ada Lovelace, agricultural Revolution, Airbnb, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, animal electricity, anthropic principle, Asperger Syndrome, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, bioinformatics, British Empire, business process, carbon-based life, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, combinatorial explosion, complexity theory, continuous integration, Conway's Game of Life, cosmological principle, dark matter, dematerialisation, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, Edward Snowden, epigenetics, Flash crash, Google Glasses, Gödel, Escher, Bach, income inequality, index card, industrial robot, Internet of things, invention of agriculture, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, Jacques de Vaucanson, James Watt: steam engine, job automation, John von Neumann, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Kickstarter, liberal capitalism, lifelogging, millennium bug, Moravec's paradox, natural language processing, Norbert Wiener, off grid, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, packet switching, pattern recognition, Paul Erdős, post-industrial society, prediction markets, Ray Kurzweil, Rodney Brooks, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, social intelligence, speech recognition, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, strong AI, technological singularity, The Coming Technological Singularity, The Future of Employment, the scientific method, theory of mind, Turing complete, Turing machine, Turing test, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Vernor Vinge, Von Neumann architecture, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Y2K

However, their analysis assumes that all other things will remain more or less equal, for instance our political system of parliamentary representation, or our free economies of prices mostly regulated by markets. But this is not necessarily so. Indeed, history has already shown us that major technological changes are the causes of social and economic paradigm shifts. For instance, we refer to the invention of agriculture around 12,000 years ago as the ‘agricultural revolution’ because it completely changed how people lived and organised themselves. Nomads and hunter-gatherers who once roamed freely over lands belonging to no one became the subjects of kingdoms and empires with hereditary property laws. The Industrial Revolution that began in late eighteenth century created a new stratification in society, with the professional and entrepreneurial middle classes displacing the landed gentry and nobility.


pages: 421 words: 120,332

The World in 2050: Four Forces Shaping Civilization's Northern Future by Laurence C. Smith

Bretton Woods, BRICs, business cycle, clean water, Climategate, colonial rule, deglobalization, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, energy security, flex fuel, G4S, global supply chain, Google Earth, guest worker program, Hans Island, hydrogen economy, ice-free Arctic, informal economy, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of agriculture, invisible hand, land tenure, Martin Wolf, megacity, Mikhail Gorbachev, New Urbanism, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, Pearl River Delta, purchasing power parity, Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan: Tear down this wall, side project, Silicon Valley, smart grid, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, standardized shipping container, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, trade liberalization, trade route, UNCLOS, UNCLOS, urban planning, Washington Consensus, Y2K

FOUR GLOBAL FORCES The first global force is demography, which essentially means the ups, downs, and movements of different population groups within the human race. Demographic measures include things like birth rates, income, age structure, ethnicity, and migration flows. We shall examine all of these in due course but for now, let us start with the most basic yet profound measure of all: the total number of people living on Earth. Before the invention of agriculture some twelve thousand years ago, there were perhaps one million persons in the world.12 That is roughly the present-day population of San Jose, California. People foraged and hunted the land, living in small mobile clans. It took twelve thousand years (until about 1800 A.D.) for our numbers to grow to one billion. But then, oh boy, liftoff. Our second billion arrived in 1930, a mere 130 years later.


pages: 476 words: 125,219

Digital Disconnect: How Capitalism Is Turning the Internet Against Democracy by Robert W. McChesney

2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, access to a mobile phone, Albert Einstein, American Legislative Exchange Council, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, Automated Insights, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, business cycle, Cass Sunstein, citizen journalism, cloud computing, collaborative consumption, collective bargaining, creative destruction, crony capitalism, David Brooks, death of newspapers, declining real wages, Double Irish / Dutch Sandwich, Erik Brynjolfsson, failed state, Filter Bubble, full employment, future of journalism, George Gilder, Gini coefficient, Google Earth, income inequality, informal economy, intangible asset, invention of agriculture, invisible hand, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Joseph Schumpeter, Julian Assange, Kickstarter, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, Metcalfe’s law, mutually assured destruction, national security letter, Nelson Mandela, Network effects, new economy, New Journalism, Nicholas Carr, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, patent troll, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, post scarcity, price mechanism, profit maximization, profit motive, QWERTY keyboard, Ralph Nader, Richard Stallman, road to serfdom, Robert Metcalfe, Saturday Night Live, sentiment analysis, Silicon Valley, single-payer health, Skype, spectrum auction, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, Telecommunications Act of 1996, the medium is the message, The Spirit Level, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, transfer pricing, Upton Sinclair, WikiLeaks, winner-take-all economy, yellow journalism

Obviously I am making broad generalizations that in a more detailed study would demand all sorts of elaboration and qualification, but for my purposes this level of abstraction is appropriate for the task, and similar to what other Internet observers provide. As you may have already guessed, the short answer to the chapter title’s question is no. The long answer follows. Foundations of Capitalism The relevant history begins roughly eight to ten thousand years ago with the invention of agriculture and the domestication of large mammals. Then, for the first time, humans were able to generate a regular surplus, producing more than was necessary to keep everyone alive. For the previous fifty to two hundred millennia humans had existed in nomadic hunting-gathering tribes. These were effectively classless societies, and only in rare instances were they able to generate a regular surplus.


pages: 1,104 words: 302,176

The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living Since the Civil War (The Princeton Economic History of the Western World) by Robert J. Gordon

"Robert Solow", 3D printing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, airline deregulation, airport security, Apple II, barriers to entry, big-box store, blue-collar work, business cycle, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Charles Lindbergh, clean water, collective bargaining, computer age, creative destruction, deindustrialization, Detroit bankruptcy, discovery of penicillin, Donner party, Downton Abbey, Edward Glaeser, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, feminist movement, financial innovation, full employment, George Akerlof, germ theory of disease, glass ceiling, high net worth, housing crisis, immigration reform, impulse control, income inequality, income per capita, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, inflight wifi, interchangeable parts, invention of agriculture, invention of air conditioning, invention of the sewing machine, invention of the telegraph, invention of the telephone, inventory management, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, jitney, job automation, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, labor-force participation, Loma Prieta earthquake, Louis Daguerre, Louis Pasteur, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, market fragmentation, Mason jar, mass immigration, mass incarceration, McMansion, Menlo Park, minimum wage unemployment, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, Norbert Wiener, obamacare, occupational segregation, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, payday loans, Peter Thiel, pink-collar, Productivity paradox, Ralph Nader, Ralph Waldo Emerson, refrigerator car, rent control, Robert X Cringely, Ronald Coase, school choice, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, Skype, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, The Market for Lemons, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, Thomas Malthus, total factor productivity, transaction costs, transcontinental railway, traveling salesman, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, undersea cable, Unsafe at Any Speed, Upton Sinclair, upwardly mobile, urban decay, urban planning, urban sprawl, washing machines reduced drudgery, Washington Consensus, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, working poor, working-age population, Works Progress Administration, yellow journalism, yield management

According to the great historian of economic growth, Angus Maddison, the annual rate of growth in the Western world from AD 1 to AD 1820 was a mere 0.06 percent per year, or 6 percent per century.1 As succinctly stated by economic commentator Steven Landsburg, Modern humans first emerged about 100,000 years ago. For the next 99,800 years or so, nothing happened. Well, not quite nothing. There were wars, political intrigue, the invention of agriculture—but none of that stuff had much effect on the quality of people’s lives. Almost everyone lived on the modern equivalent of $400 to $600 a year, just above the subsistence level…. Then—just a couple of hundred years ago—people started getting richer. And richer and richer still.2 This book adopts the “special century” approach to economic growth, holding that economic growth witnessed a singular interval of rapid growth that will not be repeated—the designation of the century between 1870 and 1970 as the special epoch applies only to the United States, the nation which has carved out the technological frontier for all developed nations since the Civil War.

Soon full-fledged research universities, headed by world-leading institutions such as the University of Michigan and the University of California, surrounded the initial undergraduate college with a wide array of graduate schools and departments. Though most of the funding for these universities and colleges was provided by state governments, the federal government through the Department of Agriculture provided most of the funding for the agricultural research activities.65 The transition of American agriculture between 1870 and 1940 to much higher levels of output per person and per acre relied on more than the invention of agricultural machinery by private entrepreneurs such as Cyrus McCormick and John Deere. The government played a major role in making modern agriculture possible through the Agricultural Extension Service, which provided the research that individual farmers could not possibly perform on their own. The service did fundamental research on “the maintenance of soil fertility, the development of improved crop varieties, the control of plant diseases and insects, the breeding and feeding of animals, … as well as those principles which have to do with the marketing and distribution of the products of the farm.”


pages: 286 words: 94,017

Future Shock by Alvin Toffler

Albert Einstein, Brownian motion, Buckminster Fuller, Charles Lindbergh, cognitive dissonance, Colonization of Mars, corporate governance, East Village, global village, Haight Ashbury, information retrieval, invention of agriculture, invention of movable type, invention of writing, longitudinal study, Marshall McLuhan, mass immigration, Menlo Park, New Urbanism, Norman Mailer, post-industrial society, RAND corporation, social intelligence, the market place, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, urban renewal, Whole Earth Catalog, zero-sum game

Indeed, a growing body of reputable opinion asserts that the present movement represents nothing less than the second great divide in human history, comparable in magnitude only with that first great break in historic continuity, the shift from barbarism to civilization. This idea crops up with increasing frequency in the writings of scientists and technologists. Sir George Thomson, the British physicist and Nobel prizewinner, suggests in The Foreseeable Future that the nearest historic parallel with today is not the industrial revolution but rather the "invention of agriculture in the neolithic age." John Diebold, the American automation expert, warns that "the effects of the technological revolution we are now living through will be deeper than any social change we have experienced before." Sir Leon Bagrit, the British computer manufacturer, insists that automation by itself represents "the greatest change in the whole history of mankind." Nor are the men of science and technology alone in these views.


pages: 578 words: 168,350

Scale: The Universal Laws of Growth, Innovation, Sustainability, and the Pace of Life in Organisms, Cities, Economies, and Companies by Geoffrey West

Alfred Russel Wallace, Anton Chekhov, Benoit Mandelbrot, Black Swan, British Empire, butterfly effect, carbon footprint, Cesare Marchetti: Marchetti’s constant, clean water, complexity theory, computer age, conceptual framework, continuous integration, corporate social responsibility, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, dark matter, Deng Xiaoping, double helix, Edward Glaeser, endogenous growth, Ernest Rutherford, first square of the chessboard, first square of the chessboard / second half of the chessboard, Frank Gehry, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, Guggenheim Bilbao, housing crisis, Index librorum prohibitorum, invention of agriculture, invention of the telephone, Isaac Newton, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John von Neumann, Kenneth Arrow, laissez-faire capitalism, life extension, Mahatma Gandhi, mandelbrot fractal, Marchetti’s constant, Masdar, megacity, Murano, Venice glass, Murray Gell-Mann, New Urbanism, Peter Thiel, profit motive, publish or perish, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Feynman, Richard Florida, Silicon Valley, smart cities, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, technological singularity, The Coming Technological Singularity, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the scientific method, too big to fail, transaction costs, urban planning, urban renewal, Vernor Vinge, Vilfredo Pareto, Von Neumann architecture, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, wikimedia commons, working poor

A crucial element in how life has been sustained is that the energy source, namely the sun, was external, reliable, and relatively constant. It shone every day and any variation in its output occurred over long enough periods of time for adaptations to accommodate to the change. This ongoing, ever-evolving, quasi-steady state very slowly began to change with our discovery of fire, which is the chemical process that releases the sun’s energy stored in dead wood. When coupled with the invention of agriculture, this began the transition to the Anthropocene as we emerged from a purely biological organism to our present state as an urbanized socioeconomic creature no longer in meta-equilibrium with the “natural” world. The truly dramatic and revolutionary departure from almost three billion years of sustainable business as usual came about in just the last two hundred years when our discovery and exploitation of the sun’s energy stored underground in coal and oil heralded the beginning of the Urbanocene.


pages: 692 words: 189,065

The Human Swarm: How Our Societies Arise, Thrive, and Fall by Mark W. Moffett

affirmative action, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, California gold rush, delayed gratification, demographic transition, eurozone crisis, George Santayana, glass ceiling, Howard Rheingold, invention of agriculture, invention of writing, Kevin Kelly, labour mobility, land tenure, long peace, Milgram experiment, out of africa, phenotype, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ronald Reagan, shared worldview, Silicon Valley, social intelligence, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, World Values Survey

Pastoralist tribes like the Huns could disperse to camps part of the year to secure pasturage for their domestic animals.10 What most set them apart was the pattern of movement of their members: nomadic hunter-gatherers spread out by fission-fusion, with people roaming with considerable freedom. Fission-fusion nevertheless generally took a regimented form for the nomadic hunter-gatherers of recent times, as it presumably did for those living prior to the invention of agriculture as well. People mostly clumped here and there in bands. Each band consisted of on average 25 to 35 individuals comprising several, usually unrelated, nuclear families, often spanning three generations.11 A person could visit other bands, yet tended to keep a long-term connection with one. Shifts between bands usually came about with little effort but not often, a far cry from the eternally fluid movements of chimpanzees and other fission-fusion species characterized by ever-changing parties.


pages: 684 words: 212,486

Hunger: The Oldest Problem by Martin Caparros

Berlin Wall, Bob Geldof, carbon footprint, commoditize, David Graeber, European colonialism, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Food sovereignty, Gini coefficient, income inequality, index fund, invention of agriculture, Jeff Bezos, Live Aid, Louis Pasteur, Mahatma Gandhi, Mohammed Bouazizi, Nelson Mandela, New Journalism, plutocrats, Plutocrats, profit maximization, Slavoj Žižek, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, the market place, Tobin tax, trade liberalization, trickle-down economics, Upton Sinclair, Washington Consensus, We are the 99%

My husband works and works, but we never get there…” “Why?” “I don’t know. I’ve asked myself many times, but I never know.” They talk about the drought. Whenever they talk about hunger in Niger, in the Sahel in general, they always talk about the drought. It’s true, weather is a factor: for example, the drought last year, notorious climate change, things like that. For millennia, ever since the invention of agriculture, humans have depended on the weather, feared the weather. In order to believe they could control it—or at least, attenuate its effects—they invented gods and offered them their goods, their lives, their destinies. A little more than a century ago, they learned how to predict, sometimes even with a bit of accuracy. But there were still events that defied their predictions: hurricanes, droughts, and other freak phenomena whose causes they couldn’t understand.


pages: 901 words: 234,905

The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature by Steven Pinker

affirmative action, Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, anti-communist, British Empire, clean water, cognitive dissonance, Columbine, conceptual framework, correlation coefficient, correlation does not imply causation, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Defenestration of Prague, desegregation, epigenetics, Exxon Valdez, George Akerlof, germ theory of disease, ghettoisation, glass ceiling, Hobbesian trap, income inequality, invention of agriculture, invisible hand, Joan Didion, long peace, meta analysis, meta-analysis, More Guns, Less Crime, Murray Gell-Mann, mutually assured destruction, Norman Mailer, Peter Singer: altruism, phenotype, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Potemkin village, prisoner's dilemma, profit motive, QWERTY keyboard, Richard Feynman, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, Robert Bork, Rodney Brooks, Saturday Night Live, social intelligence, speech recognition, Stanford prison experiment, stem cell, Steven Pinker, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, the new new thing, theory of mind, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, twin studies, ultimatum game, urban renewal, War on Poverty, women in the workforce, Yogi Berra, zero-sum game

What they mean is that the amount of genetic variation found among humans is what a biologist would expect in a species with a small number of members.5 There are more genetic differences among chimpanzees, for instance, than there are among humans, even though we dwarf them in number. The reason is that our ancestors passed through a population bottleneck fairly recently in our evolutionary history (less than a hundred thousand years ago) and dwindled to a small number of individuals with a correspondingly small amount of genetic variation. The species survived and rebounded, and then underwent a population explosion after the invention of agriculture about ten thousand years ago. That explosion bred many copies of the genes that were around when we were sparse in number; there has not been much time to accumulate many new versions of the genes. At various points after the bottleneck, differences between races emerged. But the differences in skin and hair that are so obvious when we look at people of other races are really a trick played on our intuitions.


pages: 976 words: 235,576

The Meritocracy Trap: How America's Foundational Myth Feeds Inequality, Dismantles the Middle Class, and Devours the Elite by Daniel Markovits

"Robert Solow", 8-hour work day, activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, affirmative action, Anton Chekhov, asset-backed security, assortative mating, basic income, Bernie Sanders, big-box store, business cycle, capital asset pricing model, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carried interest, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, computer age, corporate governance, corporate raider, crony capitalism, David Brooks, deskilling, Detroit bankruptcy, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, Edward Glaeser, Emanuel Derman, equity premium, European colonialism, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, fear of failure, financial innovation, financial intermediation, fixed income, Ford paid five dollars a day, Frederick Winslow Taylor, full employment, future of work, gender pay gap, George Akerlof, Gini coefficient, glass ceiling, helicopter parent, high net worth, hiring and firing, income inequality, industrial robot, interchangeable parts, invention of agriculture, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, job satisfaction, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, Kodak vs Instagram, labor-force participation, longitudinal study, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, Martin Wolf, mass incarceration, medical residency, minimum wage unemployment, Myron Scholes, Nate Silver, New Economic Geography, new economy, offshore financial centre, Paul Samuelson, payday loans, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Plutonomy: Buying Luxury, Explaining Global Imbalances, precariat, purchasing power parity, rent-seeking, Richard Florida, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, school choice, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, six sigma, Skype, stakhanovite, stem cell, Steve Jobs, supply-chain management, telemarketer, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, Thomas Davenport, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, total factor productivity, transaction costs, traveling salesman, universal basic income, unpaid internship, Vanguard fund, War on Poverty, Winter of Discontent, women in the workforce, working poor, young professional, zero-sum game

This applies especially to innovations that are deployed in production, which are by nature pursued not for knowledge’s own sake (if such a thing were even possible), but rather in response to practical considerations and opportunities for profit. Interested innovators adjust the technologies that they invent to suit economic background conditions, including in particular the resource base that their society possesses—the broad set of assets that new technologies might exploit. This has been so from the very earliest days of innovation, indeed since the invention of agriculture. In the first agrarian economies, for example, a society in an arid country might develop drip irrigation, while a society with numerous rivers might develop paddy field farming. Later the abundance of slave labor in the ancient world is often said to help explain why even very advanced societies never industrialized. (Hero of Alexandria even devised a mechanism by which steam might spin a ball, but no one deployed this technology in productive engines.)


Global Catastrophic Risks by Nick Bostrom, Milan M. Cirkovic

affirmative action, agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, anthropic principle, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, availability heuristic, Bill Joy: nanobots, Black Swan, carbon-based life, cognitive bias, complexity theory, computer age, coronavirus, corporate governance, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, cosmological principle, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, death of newspapers, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, distributed generation, Doomsday Clock, Drosophila, endogenous growth, Ernest Rutherford, failed state, feminist movement, framing effect, friendly AI, Georg Cantor, global pandemic, global village, Gödel, Escher, Bach, hindsight bias, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of agriculture, Kevin Kelly, Kuiper Belt, Law of Accelerating Returns, life extension, means of production, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Mikhail Gorbachev, millennium bug, mutually assured destruction, nuclear winter, P = NP, peak oil, phenotype, planetary scale, Ponzi scheme, prediction markets, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, scientific worldview, Singularitarianism, social intelligence, South China Sea, strong AI, superintelligent machines, supervolcano, technological singularity, technoutopianism, The Coming Technological Singularity, Tunguska event, twin studies, uranium enrichment, Vernor Vinge, War on Poverty, Westphalian system, Y2K

Three other factors play important but usually subordinate roles in evolutionary change: genetic recombination, the chance effects caused by genetic drift, and gene flow between populations. Arguments have been made that these evolutionary processes are having little effect on our species at the present time (Jones, 1991). If so, this is simply because our species is experiencing a rare halcyon period in its history. During the evolutionary eye blink of the last 1 0,000 years, since the invention of agriculture and the rise of technology, our population has expanded dramatically. The result has been that large numbers of individuals who would otherwise have died have been able to survive and reproduce. I have argued elsewhere (Wills, 1 998) and will explore later in this chapter the thesis that even this halcyon period may be largely an illusion. Powerful psychological pressures and new environmental factors (Spira and Multigner, 1998) are currently playing a major role in determining who among us reproduces.


pages: 1,402 words: 369,528

A History of Western Philosophy by Aaron Finkel

British Empire, Eratosthenes, Georg Cantor, George Santayana, invention of agriculture, liberation theology, Mahatma Gandhi, plutocrats, Plutocrats, source of truth, Thales and the olive presses, Thales of Miletus, the market place, William of Occam

They were influenced by industrialism in the problems that they considered, but not much in the ideas that they employed in the solution of their problems. The most important effect of machine production on the imaginative picture of the world is an immense increase in the sense of human power. This is only an acceleration of a process which began before the dawn of history, when men diminished their fear of wild animals by the invention of weapons and their fear of starvation by the invention of agriculture. But the acceleration has been so great as to produce a radically new outlook in those who wield the powers that modern technique has created. In old days, mountains and waterfalls were natural phenomena; now, an inconvenient mountain can be abolished and a convenient waterfall can be created. In old days, there were deserts and fertile regions; now, the desert can, if people think it worth while, be made to blossom like the rose, while fertile regions are turned into deserts by insufficiently scientific optimists.


Wealth and Poverty of Nations by David S. Landes

"Robert Solow", Admiral Zheng, affirmative action, agricultural Revolution, Atahualpa, Ayatollah Khomeini, Bartolomé de las Casas, British Empire, business cycle, Cape to Cairo, clean water, colonial rule, Columbian Exchange, computer age, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, deskilling, European colonialism, Fellow of the Royal Society, financial intermediation, Francisco Pizarro, germ theory of disease, glass ceiling, illegal immigration, income inequality, Index librorum prohibitorum, interchangeable parts, invention of agriculture, invention of movable type, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, John Harrison: Longitude, joint-stock company, Just-in-time delivery, Kenneth Arrow, land tenure, lateral thinking, mass immigration, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, MITM: man-in-the-middle, Monroe Doctrine, Murano, Venice glass, new economy, New Urbanism, North Sea oil, out of africa, passive investing, Paul Erdős, Paul Samuelson, Philip Mirowski, rent-seeking, Right to Buy, Scramble for Africa, Simon Kuznets, South China Sea, spice trade, spinning jenny, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade route, transaction costs, transatlantic slave trade, Vilfredo Pareto, zero-sum game

In particular, these centuries saw the further expansion of a civilization that now found itself stronger than its neighbors, and the beginnings of exploration and conquest overseas. This long multicentennial maturation ( 1 0 0 0 - 1 5 0 0 ) rested on an economic revolution, a transformation of the entire process of making, getting, and spending such as the world had not seen since the socalled Neolithic revolution. That one (c. - 8 0 0 0 to - 3 0 0 0 ) had taken thousands of years to work itself out. Its focus had been the invention of agriculture and the domestication of livestock, both of which had enormously augmented the energy available for work. (All economic [industrial] revolutions have at their core an enhancement o f the sup­ ply of energy, because this feeds and changes all aspects of human ac- E U R O P E A N E X C E P T I O N A L I S M : A D I F F E R E N T PATH 41 tivity. ) This shift away from hunting and gathering, bringing a leap in the supply of nourishment, permitted a substantial growth of popula­ tion and a new pattern of concentrated settlement.


Europe: A History by Norman Davies

agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Berlin Wall, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business climate, centre right, charter city, clean water, Columbian Exchange, conceptual framework, continuation of politics by other means, Corn Laws, cuban missile crisis, Defenestration of Prague, discovery of DNA, double entry bookkeeping, Edmond Halley, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, equal pay for equal work, Eratosthenes, Etonian, European colonialism, experimental economics, financial independence, finite state, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Francisco Pizarro, full employment, global village, Honoré de Balzac, Index librorum prohibitorum, interchangeable parts, invention of agriculture, invention of movable type, Isaac Newton, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Johannes Kepler, John Harrison: Longitude, joint-stock company, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, land reform, liberation theology, long peace, Louis Blériot, Louis Daguerre, Mahatma Gandhi, mass immigration, Mikhail Gorbachev, Monroe Doctrine, Murano, Venice glass, music of the spheres, New Urbanism, North Sea oil, offshore financial centre, Peace of Westphalia, popular capitalism, Potemkin village, purchasing power parity, Ralph Waldo Emerson, road to serfdom, sceptred isle, Scramble for Africa, spinning jenny, Thales of Miletus, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, Transnistria, urban planning, urban sprawl

Its starting-point is the traditional type of agrarian, peasant-based society, where the majority of people work on the land and produce their own food; and its destination is the modern type of urbanized and industrialized society, where most people earn their living in towns and factories. It consists of a chain of some 30 or 40 related changes, each link of which forms a necessary component in the total operation. It certainly includes and subsumes industrialization and ‘the Industrial Revolution’, which is now usually taken to be just one vital part, or one stage, of the overall process. ‘No change in human life since the invention of agriculture, metallurgy, and towns in the New Stone Age has been so profound as the coming of industrialisation.’4 By general consent, modernization was first experienced in Great Britain—or rather in certain regions of Great Britain such as Lancashire, Yorkshire, the Black Country, Tyneside, Clydebank, and South Wales. But it was soon felt on the Continent, especially in locations on or near the great coalfields in Belgium, in the Ruhr, and in Silesia.