27 results back to index
The God Species: Saving the Planet in the Age of Humans by Mark Lynas
back-to-the-land, Berlin Wall, carbon footprint, clean water, Climategate, Climatic Research Unit, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, decarbonisation, dematerialisation, demographic transition, Haber-Bosch Process, ice-free Arctic, invention of the steam engine, James Watt: steam engine, megacity, meta analysis, meta-analysis, moral hazard, Negawatt, New Urbanism, oil shale / tar sands, out of africa, peak oil, planetary scale, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, Ronald Reagan, special drawing rights, Stewart Brand, University of East Anglia
Our mastery of fire was a product of the adaptability and innovativeness with which evolution had already equipped us long before, and that no other species had heretofore possessed. Humanity’s Great Leap Forward was not about evolution, but adaptation—and could therefore move a thousand times faster. I don’t want to oversimplify: The Stone Age did not end in 1764 with James Watt’s invention of the steam engine. Clearly great leaps in human behavior and organization took place over preceding millennia with the advent of language, trade, agriculture, cities, writing, and the myriad other innovations in production and communications that laid the foundations for humanity’s industrial emergence. But I would argue that the true Anthropocene probably did begin in the second half of the eighteenth century, for it was then that atmospheric carbon dioxide levels began their inexorable climb upward, a rise that continues in accelerated form today.
But climate change has an evil twin, whose very existence was barely noted until comparatively recently, but which is now considered by the planetary boundaries expert group to be sufficiently critical to the Earth system to deserve separate consideration. This new boundary is the acidification of the world’s oceans, which, as they absorb the carbon dioxide released by human burning of fossil fuels, are gradually turning more hostile to many forms of marine life. Homo sapiens currently releases 10 billion tonnes of carbon per year—a million tonnes every hour. Since James Watt’s invention of the steam engine in 1784, humans have released more than half a trillion tonnes of carbon from geological safe storage underground into the atmosphere.1 Up to 85 percent of this liberated carbon, somewhere between 340 and 420 billion tonnes, has soaked into the oceans.2 This is a stroke of luck for us, because rates of greenhouse warming are sharply reduced as a result: Were the oceans not performing this free service, the Earth’s temperature would be rising at double or triple today’s rate.
The Enigma of Capital: And the Crises of Capitalism by David Harvey
accounting loophole / creative accounting, anti-communist, Asian financial crisis, bank run, banking crisis, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business climate, call centre, capital controls, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, equal pay for equal work, European colonialism, failed state, financial innovation, Frank Gehry, full employment, global reserve currency, Google Earth, Guggenheim Bilbao, illegal immigration, indoor plumbing, interest rate swap, invention of the steam engine, Jane Jacobs, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Just-in-time delivery, land reform, liquidity trap, Long Term Capital Management, market bubble, means of production, megacity, microcredit, moral hazard, mortgage debt, new economy, New Urbanism, Northern Rock, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, place-making, Ponzi scheme, precariat, reserve currency, Ronald Reagan, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, special drawing rights, special economic zone, statistical arbitrage, structural adjustment programs, the built environment, the market place, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, urban renewal, urban sprawl, white flight, women in the workforce
But in terms of the immediate crisis of our time that began in 2006, the question of natural limits cannot, on the surface at least, be accorded primacy of place, with the possible exception of the role of so-called ‘peak oil’ and its impact on energy prices. The issue of peak oil requires, therefore, some commentary. As background it is worth noting that what began to appear as the greatest of all potential natural limits to capitalist development in eighteenth-century Britain was neatly transcended by the turn to fossil fuels and the invention of the steam engine. Before that time the land had to be used for both food and energy production (from biomass) and it became increasingly clear that it could not be used for both at a compound rate of growth given the transport capacities of the time. After 1780 or so, energy could come from underground (in the form of coal reserves laid down in the Carboniferous period) and the land could be used for food production alone.
This was a persistent feature of the history of Chinese civilisation, for example. It ultimately proved to be the Achilles heel of actually existing communism. Bureaucratic and power-structure ossification became the problem. For reasons that are much debated and which will probably never be finally settled, between the Catholic Church’s inquisition and repression of Galileo in the early seventeenth century and Watt’s invention of the steam engine in the late eighteenth century, there occurred in Europe, and in Britain in particular, a radical reconfiguration of the social, political, cultural and legal conditions that turned innovation and new ideas into an open sesame for the creation of wealth and power. A ruling class continued to rule, but not necessarily through the same personae or their biological descendants. The kind of society that emerged was grounded in private property rights, juridical individualism, some version of free markets and free trade.
The Relentless Revolution: A History of Capitalism by Joyce Appleby
1919 Motor Transport Corps convoy, agricultural Revolution, anti-communist, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, Bartolomé de las Casas, Bernie Madoff, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, call centre, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, Columbian Exchange, corporate governance, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, Doha Development Round, double entry bookkeeping, epigenetics, equal pay for equal work, European colonialism, facts on the ground, failed state, Firefox, Ford paid five dollars a day, Francisco Pizarro, Frederick Winslow Taylor, full employment, Gordon Gekko, Henry Ford's grandson gave labor union leader Walter Reuther a tour of the company’s new, automated factory…, Hernando de Soto, hiring and firing, illegal immigration, informal economy, interchangeable parts, interest rate swap, invention of movable type, invention of the printing press, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, land reform, Livingstone, I presume, Long Term Capital Management, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Wolf, moral hazard, Ponzi scheme, profit maximization, profit motive, race to the bottom, Ralph Nader, refrigerator car, Ronald Reagan, Scramble for Africa, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, South China Sea, South Sea Bubble, special economic zone, spice trade, spinning jenny, strikebreaker, the built environment, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, Thorstein Veblen, total factor productivity, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, transcontinental railway, union organizing, Unsafe at Any Speed, Upton Sinclair, urban renewal, War on Poverty, working poor, Works Progress Administration, Yogi Berra, Yom Kippur War
The significance of expanded trade routes and partners could not possibly be overstated, but the key point to make about trade in a history of capitalism is that it had existed for centuries before capitalism and would have continued to flourish without it. Because we can see the obvious connections between the sixteenth-century voyages to the Orient and the New World, we’re tempted to connect it seamlessly to the eighteenth-century invention of the steam engine and the emergence of full-blown capitalism as though the one followed the other inexorably, but there is no inevitability in life. Nor do we ever have a very good sense of what the future holds for us. In the middle of the seventeenth century, when new trades were opening up, there was no reason for people to expect that a succession of marvelous machines would alter modes of work that had prevailed for millennia or that a fresh description of human beings and their social nature would soon supplant the traditional wisdom that had long guided people.
Its members soon discovered how difficult it was to turn useful “knowledge” into useful practices, but they did initiate a lecture series that took this knowledge to the provinces, where others might actually figure out how to make it useful.29 Of course none of this would have had any impact on the world of work where people sweated near blast furnaces and toiled at weaving looms had not the physical laws they studied affected the actions of lifting, pushing, and rotating. The two important discoveries for the invention of the steam engine, the pivotal innovation of the century, were the existence of a vacuum and the measuring of air pressure. And even this knowledge might have remained locked up in air pumps and bell jars had there not been a diffused conviction, since Newton wrote that nature could be made to work for human beings, that its forces could be understood and controlled. On the Continent, where the Catholic Church was strong, Newtonian thought was suspect, treated almost as occult.
Jobs were so scarce that many families moved back to the country, even though farmers were laden down with redundant wheat, corn, and cotton harvests. In statements that bring knowing smiles to our lips, lots of experts expressed the fear that the age of invention and expansion had come to an end. Some critics hailed the Depression as a reproof to a materialistic age. It posed, they said, an opportunity to return to the simple way of life that had prevailed before the invention of the steam engine. The severity, universality, and duration of the Great Depression disproved the contention that the economy had its own means for righting itself. The unwillingness of the United States to demonstrate the enlightened self-interest of a leader willing to take a few hits for the benefit of long-term recovery disappointed. The Depression also exposed the need for mechanisms to stabilize currencies, credit, and the flow of goods.
The Great Surge: The Ascent of the Developing World by Steven Radelet
Admiral Zheng, agricultural Revolution, Asian financial crisis, bank run, Berlin Wall, Branko Milanovic, business climate, business process, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, clean water, colonial rule, demographic dividend, Deng Xiaoping, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, Doha Development Round, Erik Brynjolfsson, European colonialism, F. W. de Klerk, failed state, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Gini coefficient, global supply chain, income inequality, income per capita, invention of the steam engine, James Watt: steam engine, John Snow's cholera map, Joseph Schumpeter, land reform, low skilled workers, M-Pesa, megacity, Mikhail Gorbachev, oil shock, out of africa, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, randomized controlled trial, Robert Gordon, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, Simon Kuznets, South China Sea, special economic zone, Steven Pinker, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, trade route, women in the workforce, working poor
Human welfare and average incomes began to improve slowly, in some parts of the world, starting in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, but progress was incremental and not widespread. That pattern began to change rapidly in the nineteenth century, as the impacts of the industrial revolution took hold, and increasing numbers of people began to escape the ravages of extreme poverty. James Watt’s invention of the steam engine in the 1770s ignited a surge of new innovations and technologies, including the transformation from hand to machine production, the introduction of mechanized cotton spinning (and with it the mass production of textiles), Jethro Tull’s (earlier) development of the horse-drawn seed drill (which helped increase food and agricultural production), the shift in energy sources from wood and charcoal to much cheaper coal, and the large-scale production of chemicals and iron.
As developing countries have become more integrated with the global economy over the last two decades, they have been able to take advantage of computers, the internet, cell phones, containerized shipping, cheaper and safer air travel, new plant varieties and agricultural techniques, and new medicines. Part of the importance of the recent global integration of developing countries is that it has taken place exactly when it did: during a period of some of the greatest advances in technology in the last two hundred years. Just as the industrial revolution can be traced to James Watt’s invention of the steam engine, which drove innovations and changes across the economic landscape, much of the current technological revolution can be traced back to the semiconductor and the computer, a history that Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee recount in The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies.14 There are multiple examples, but I will focus on technological advances in four areas that have been important to developing countries: transportation, agriculture, information, and health.
Startup Weekend: How to Take a Company From Concept to Creation in 54 Hours by Marc Nager, Clint Nelsen, Franck Nouyrigat
Amazon Web Services, barriers to entry, business climate, invention of the steam engine, James Watt: steam engine, Mark Zuckerberg, minimum viable product, pattern recognition, Silicon Valley, transaction costs, web application, Y Combinator
And while innovation is moving at Internet speed, this won't be limited to just Internet commerce startups. It will spread to the enterprise, and ultimately, to every other business segment. When It's Darkest, We See the Stars What does it mean that we are at the cusp of a revolution as important as the scientific and industrial ones? Revolutions are not obvious when they are happening. When James Watt launched the Industrial Revolution with the invention of the steam engine in 1775, no one said, “This is the day everything changes.” When Karl Benz drove around Mannheim in 1885, no one said, “There will be 500 million of these driving around in a century.” And certainly in 1958, when Noyce and Kilby invented the integrated circuit, the notion of a quintillion (10 to the 18th power) transistors being produced each year seemed ludicrous. Yet, it's possible that we'll look back at this decade as the beginning of our own revolution.
The Misfit Economy: Lessons in Creativity From Pirates, Hackers, Gangsters and Other Informal Entrepreneurs by Alexa Clay, Kyra Maya Phillips
3D printing, Airbnb, Alfred Russel Wallace, Berlin Wall, Burning Man, collaborative consumption, conceptual framework, double helix, fear of failure, game design, Hacker Ethic, Howard Rheingold, informal economy, invention of the steam engine, James Watt: steam engine, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, lone genius, Mark Zuckerberg, megacity, Occupy movement, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, supply-chain management, union organizing, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, Zipcar
In the nineteenth century, many English anti-patent campaigners argued that innovation wasn’t endowed to a “special breed of heroes” but to the everyman. They felt that the itch to invent was inborn. In a nod to collective innovation, they didn’t feel that any one inventor could or should claim credit or royalties when “there is no need to reward him who might be lucky enough to be the first to hit on the thing required.”20 Arriving at the invention of the steam engine or the cotton gin was attributed to right time, right place. If you hadn’t done it, well, someone else would have. You just got there first. It seems, then, that the patent system has always been an instrument of extraction, a collusion between the wealthy and their government. Historian Adrian Johns notes in his book Piracy: The Intellectual Property Wars from Gutenberg to Gates that these same anti-patent Englishmen felt that lower-class inventors were “hopeless in the face of big capital” due to the cost of patent fees, which in 1860 ranged from £100 to £120 (around $585), or approximately four times per capita income.
Status Anxiety by Alain de Botton
Then, in early-eighteenth-century Britain, the great Western transformation began. Thanks to new farming techniques (including crop rotation, scientific stock breeding and land consolidation), yields began to increase sharply. Between 1700 and 1820, Britain’s agricultural productivity doubled, releasing capital and manpower that flowed into the cities to be invested in industry and trade. The invention of the steam engine and the cotton power loom modified not only working practices but social expectations. Towns exploded in size. In 1800, only one city in the British Isles, London, could boast a population of more than a hundred thousand; by 1891, twenty-three English cities would make that claim. Goods and services that had formerly been the exclusive preserve of the elite were made available to the masses.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution by Klaus Schwab
3D printing, additive manufacturing, Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, bitcoin, blockchain, Buckminster Fuller, call centre, clean water, collaborative consumption, conceptual framework, continuous integration, crowdsourcing, disintermediation, distributed ledger, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, epigenetics, Erik Brynjolfsson, future of work, global value chain, Google Glasses, income inequality, Internet Archive, Internet of things, invention of the steam engine, job automation, job satisfaction, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, life extension, Lyft, megacity, meta analysis, meta-analysis, more computing power than Apollo, mutually assured destruction, Narrative Science, Network effects, Nicholas Carr, personalized medicine, precariat, precision agriculture, Productivity paradox, race to the bottom, randomized controlled trial, reshoring, RFID, rising living standards, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, smart cities, smart contracts, software as a service, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stuxnet, The Spirit Level, total factor productivity, transaction costs, Uber and Lyft, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, WikiLeaks, winner-take-all economy, women in the workforce, working-age population, Y Combinator, Zipcar
The agrarian revolution was followed by a series of industrial revolutions that began in the second half of the 18th century. These marked the transition from muscle power to mechanical power, evolving to where today, with the fourth industrial revolution, enhanced cognitive power is augmenting human production. The first industrial revolution spanned from about 1760 to around 1840. Triggered by the construction of railroads and the invention of the steam engine, it ushered in mechanical production. The second industrial revolution, which started in the late 19th century and into the early 20th century, made mass production possible, fostered by the advent of electricity and the assembly line. The third industrial revolution began in the 1960s. It is usually called the computer or digital revolution because it was catalysed by the development of semiconductors, mainframe computing (1960s), personal computing (1970s and 80s) and the internet (1990s).
Albert Einstein, Andy Kessler, automated trading system, bank run, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bretton Woods, British Empire, buttonwood tree, Claude Shannon: information theory, Corn Laws, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, fiat currency, floating exchange rates, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, Grace Hopper, invention of the steam engine, invention of the telephone, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, John von Neumann, joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Maui Hawaii, Menlo Park, Metcalfe's law, packet switching, price mechanism, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, profit motive, railway mania, RAND corporation, Silicon Valley, Small Order Execution System, South Sea Bubble, spice trade, spinning jenny, Steve Jobs, supply-chain management, supply-chain management software, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, tulip mania, Turing machine, Turing test, William Shockley: the traitorous eight
OK, no one was surfing the Web with this computer, but Jacquard set up some basic computer concepts others would build on. Punch cards? Hmm. Put that into our satchel - we might need that later, too. *** Simple arithmetic and patterns for looms are one thing, but if mathematicians wanted to do anything more, they did it by hand. The Holy Grail for scientists at the time was to solve differential equations. Astronomers who studied the skies needed differential equations to predict orbits. The invention of the steam engine would have gone a lot faster if James Watt had been able to solve differentials in Isaac Newton’s law of cooling. Newton stated that if an object, hot or cold, is in an area of constant temperature, then its rate of temperature change is proportional to the difference between the object’s temperature and the ambient temperature. Newton figured this out empirically with a thermometer.
The Invention of Science: A New History of the Scientific Revolution by David Wootton
agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, British Empire, clockwork universe, Commentariolus, conceptual framework, Dava Sobel, double entry bookkeeping, double helix, en.wikipedia.org, Ernest Rutherford, Fellow of the Royal Society, fudge factor, germ theory of disease, Google X / Alphabet X, Hans Lippershey, interchangeable parts, invention of gunpowder, invention of the steam engine, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Jacques de Vaucanson, James Watt: steam engine, John Harrison: Longitude, knowledge economy, lone genius, Mercator projection, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, placebo effect, QWERTY keyboard, Republic of Letters, spice trade, spinning jenny, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions
It is this sort of revolution, a revolution of unintended consequences and unforeseen outcomes, that Butterfield intended to evoke by the term ‘the Scientific Revolution’. If we define the term ‘revolution’ narrowly as an abrupt transformation that affects everybody at the same time, there is no Scientific Revolution – and no Neolithic Revolution, or Military Revolution (following the invention of gunpowder), or Industrial Revolution (following the invention of the steam engine) either. But we need to acknowledge the existence of extended, patchy revolutions if we want to turn aside from politics and understand large-scale economic, social, intellectual and technological change. Who, for example, would object to the term ‘the digital revolution’ on the grounds that it is not a singular and discrete event, localized in time and space? There is a certain irony in Butterfield’s adoption of the retrospective term ‘Scientific Revolution’, and an even greater one in his choice of The Origins of Modern Science for his title.
Thomas Kuhn thought that science and technology were antithetical to each other, at least until the 1870s.9 One might think that the historians of technology would have wanted to question this disjuncture between theory and practice – but at first they were the same people as the historians of science.10 The major attack on the established orthodoxy has come only very recently, and from an unexpected quarter: the new economic historians of the Industrial Revolution, who emphasize the importance of skills and technical innovation, of what they call ‘the knowledge economy’.11 On this question the new economic historians are (as will become apparent) in the right. But those who argue that science played a key role in the Industrial Revolution need to have an answer to a simple and by now classic question: What role did science play in the invention of the steam engine? Before tackling this problem, however, we need to unpack the apparently straightforward notion of practical knowledge. The key issue here is one of timescale: How long should one wait before dismissing a theoretical achievement or a technological advance as having little or no practical relevance? Does, as Hall assumed, the new science have to be contemporary with the technology that derives from it?
Thus the basic technology of the steam engine’s piston is laid out because that technology overlaps with the technology of the air pump – it is precisely because of these overlaps that Papin could go on three years later to build the first steam engine.vii Papin’s 1687 air pump, from A Continuation of the New Digester. But the Continuation does more than that. It provides the reader with the line of thinking that led Papin to the invention of the steam engine. Here is what he says: I might also reckon among the uses of this Engine [the air-pump] the strength it can afford to produce great effects without the encumbrance of great weights: For a tube very even and well workt may be made very light and yet being emptyed of Air it will endure the pressure of the Atmosphere: Nevertheless a plug very exact at one end of that tube would be pressed towards the other with a very great strength, at least if the tube was of a pretty great Diameter: for example if it was a foot Diameter the plug would be press’t with the strength of about 1800 pounds.
Halting State by Charles Stross
augmented reality, call centre, forensic accounting, game design, Google Earth, hiring and firing, illegal immigration, impulse control, indoor plumbing, invention of the steam engine, Necker cube, Potemkin village, RFID, Schrödinger's Cat, Vernor Vinge, zero day
Being politely thick at the gearheads was getting to you, so after lunch you got in the car and trundled over to Mr. MacDonald’s house, which turned out to be a top-floor flat in Bruntsfield, just off the Links. Which would have made for a nice side trip, but by the time you’d found somewhere to park and then climbed four flights of stone steps—like most of Edinburgh, the tenement he’d chosen to live in predated the invention of the steam engine, never mind lifts—you were deeply unamused to find yourself facing a locked oak door with a discreetly reinforced frame and an unanswered doorbell. Standing on the wicker door-mat, you speculated for a few moments: Maybe the sly bugger’s legged it to Dubai to spend his ill-gotten gains? (Assuming for a moment that the ill-gotten gains existed—you weren’t too clear on that.) You glanced up.
Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto by Stewart Brand
agricultural Revolution, 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, invention of agriculture, invention of the steam engine, Jane Jacobs, jimmy wales, Kevin Kelly, Kibera, land tenure, M-Pesa, Marshall McLuhan, megacity, microbiome, New Urbanism, out of africa, Paul Graham, peak oil, 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, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, working-age population, Y2K
“Not only does the pace of life increase with city size,” the authors wrote, “but so also must the rate at which new major adaptations and innovations need to be introduced to sustain the city.” The paper concluded, “We have shown that growth driven by innovation implies, in principle, no limit to the size of a city, providing a quantitative argument against classical ideas in urban economics.” In other words, West told me, “Cities can go on growing forever. Look at the invention of the steam engine, the car, the digital revolution. What these advances all have in common is that they allowed cities to continue growing.” If cities are concentrators of efficiency and innovation, an article about the scaling paper in Conservation magazine surmised, then, “the secret to creating a more environmentally sustainable society is making our cities bigger. We need more metropolises.” (I am a contributing editor to Conservation.)
Early Retirement Extreme by Jacob Lund Fisker
8-hour work day, active transport: walking or cycling, barriers to entry, clean water, Community Supported Agriculture, delayed gratification, discounted cash flows, diversification, don't be evil, dumpster diving, financial independence, game design, index fund, invention of the steam engine, inventory management, loose coupling, market bubble, McMansion, passive income, peak oil, place-making, Ponzi scheme, psychological pricing, the scientific method, time value of money, transaction costs, wage slave, working poor
Succession occurs because the dominance of one species gradually changes the environment. These are the most important observations. Keep in mind that one species may be dependent on other species or live together with other species in communities. A community is known as a seral stage. Seral stages merge gradually into each other until they reach the climax stage. The climax stage is stable, but may change due to external or internal disruptive events (lava flows, the invention of the steam engine). Ergodicity and destiny It is possible to change "species." Regardless of the initial state or large bumps along the way, people gravitate toward the outcomes their behavior induces. As "species" have different types of behavior, one must change behavior to change species. There's no faking it, nor is there any "buying" it. People do not change due to a single clever idea; they are what they are based on the totality of their behavior.
Utopia Is Creepy: And Other Provocations by Nicholas Carr
Air France Flight 447, Airbnb, AltaVista, Amazon Mechanical Turk, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Bernie Sanders, book scanning, Brewster Kahle, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, centralized clearinghouse, cloud computing, cognitive bias, collaborative consumption, computer age, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, deskilling, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, factory automation, failed state, feminist movement, Frederick Winslow Taylor, friendly fire, game design, global village, Google bus, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, Googley, hive mind, impulse control, indoor plumbing, interchangeable parts, Internet Archive, invention of movable type, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, job automation, Kevin Kelly, low skilled workers, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, Menlo Park, mental accounting, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, oil shale / tar sands, Peter Thiel, Plutocrats, plutocrats, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Republic of Letters, robot derives from the Czech word robota Czech, meaning slave, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, SETI@home, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Singularitarianism, Snapchat, social graph, social web, speech recognition, Startup school, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, technoutopianism, the medium is the message, theory of mind, Turing test, Whole Earth Catalog, Y Combinator
By breaking down every job into a sequence of small, discrete steps and then testing different ways of performing each one, Taylor created a set of precise instructions—an “algorithm,” we might say today—for how each worker should work. Midvale’s employees grumbled about the strict new regime, claiming that it turned them into little more than automatons, but the factory’s productivity soared. More than a hundred years after the invention of the steam engine, the industrial revolution had at last found its philosophy and its philosopher. Taylor’s tight industrial choreography—his “system,” as he liked to call it—was embraced by manufacturers throughout the country and, in time, around the world. Seeking maximum speed, maximum efficiency, and maximum output, factory owners used time-and-motion studies to organize their work and configure the jobs of their workers.
Amazon Mechanical Turk, Andrew Keen, centre right, citizen journalism, collaborative editing, computer age, computer vision, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, David Brooks, disintermediation, Frederick Winslow Taylor, Howard Rheingold, invention of movable type, invention of the steam engine, invention of the telephone, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, late fees, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, PageRank, pets.com, Results Only Work Environment, Saturday Night Live, search engine result page, semantic web, Silicon Valley, slashdot, social graph, social web, software as a service, speech recognition, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, technology bubble, Ted Nelson, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thorstein Veblen, web application
By breaking down every job into a sequence of small, discrete steps and then testing different ways of performing each one, Taylor created a set of precise instructions—an “algorithm,” we might say today—for how each worker should work. Midvale’s employees grumbled about the strict new regime, claiming that it turned them into little more than automatons, but the factory’s productivity soared. More than a hundred years after the invention of the steam engine, the Industrial Revolution had at last found its philosophy and its philosopher. Taylor’s tight industrial choreography—his “system,” as he liked to call it—was embraced by manufacturers throughout the country and, in time, around the world. Seeking maximum speed, maximum efficiency, and maximum output, factory owners used time-and-motion studies to organize their work and configure the jobs of their workers.
The New New Thing: A Silicon Valley Story by Michael Lewis
Albert Einstein, Andy Kessler, business climate, Chance favours the prepared mind, data acquisition, family office, high net worth, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, Menlo Park, pre–internet, risk tolerance, Sand Hill Road, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Thorstein Veblen, Y2K
It was expected to handle up to eleven tons of wind. That is, the force on its ropes was the equivalent of dangling from their ends an eleven ton steel block. Already the ropes were being tested. "The wind is too strong to let it all out," Allan shouted to Wolter. Wolter nodded solemnly. Not until you have hoisted a sail and turned off the engine can you fully appreciate the euphoria that accompanied the invention of the steam engine. The boat, now engineless, was subjected to a grosser, more primal force. The waves crashed and the spray came in sheets and the partial corkscrewing motion became a full corkscrewing motion. The eight men in Puker's Alley retched all over again. This time it wasn't so funny to the others. A wave washed over the deck and knocked two of the Dutch shipyard workers on the bow off their feet; they were saved from the sea by their safety ropes, which they alone wore.
Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else by Chrystia Freeland
Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Basel III, battle of ideas, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Black Swan, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, BRICs, business climate, call centre, carried interest, Cass Sunstein, Clayton Christensen, collapse of Lehman Brothers, conceptual framework, corporate governance, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, Deng Xiaoping, don't be evil, double helix, energy security, estate planning, experimental subject, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Flash crash, Frank Gehry, Gini coefficient, global village, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Gordon Gekko, Guggenheim Bilbao, haute couture, high net worth, income inequality, invention of the steam engine, job automation, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, linear programming, London Whale, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, Martin Wolf, Mikhail Gorbachev, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, NetJets, new economy, Occupy movement, open economy, Peter Thiel, place-making, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Plutonomy: Buying Luxury, Explaining Global Imbalances, postindustrial economy, Potemkin village, profit motive, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, rent-seeking, Rod Stewart played at Stephen Schwarzman birthday party, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, short selling, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Simon Kuznets, Solar eclipse in 1919, sovereign wealth fund, stem cell, Steve Jobs, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Tony Hsieh, too big to fail, trade route, trickle-down economics, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, wage slave, Washington Consensus, winner-take-all economy
The result was economic windfalls for the locals and foreigners with the skills, the smarts, and the psyche to take advantage of them. A second set of revolutions is in technology. New technologies, especially computers and the Internet, then mobile and wireless, are disrupting existing businesses and opening up the chance to create new ones. Like the industrial revolution, which started with mechanization of the textile industry, then the invention of the steam engine, followed by the combustion engine and electricity, the technology revolution isn’t a single discovery; it is wave after wave of related transformations. In 2012, the hot new areas were big data—our ability to collect and analyze massive amounts of information—and machines talking to machines, creating what W. Brian Arthur, the economist who studies technological change, describes as the second, digital economy—“vast, silent, connected, unseen, and autonomous.”
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, demographic transition, Diane Coyle, Edward Glaeser, energy security, failed state, Gini coefficient, Haber-Bosch Process, income inequality, income per capita, intermodal, invention of agriculture, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, labour mobility, low skilled workers, microcredit, oil shale / tar sands, 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 the nineteenth century, local availability of coal was virtually a sine qua non of industrialization. In the twentieth century, availability of hydrocarbons was generally a great advantage. There are a host of qualifiers to this rule, however. First, the usefulness of a particular energy resource depends on the technology that is available. Coal made only a modest difference before the invention of the steam engine. Most water power could not be usefully tapped before the invention of the elec-trodynamo, by which falling water can be converted into electricity. Oil became valuable with the invention of the internal combustion engine. Perhaps in the twenty-first century, sunshine will become the resource of choice as solar power is more effectively harnessed. Second, most energy resources are tradable, so even countries lacking in key energy resources can import their energy needs as long as they earn foreign exchange through exports.
Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism by David Harvey
accounting loophole / creative accounting, bitcoin, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, business climate, California gold rush, call centre, central bank independence, clean water, cloud computing, collapse of Lehman Brothers, colonial rule, Credit Default Swap, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, demographic dividend, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, falling living standards, fiat currency, first square of the chessboard, first square of the chessboard / second half of the chessboard, Food sovereignty, Frank Gehry, future of work, global reserve currency, Guggenheim Bilbao, income inequality, informal economy, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jane Jacobs, Jarndyce and Jarndyce, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Joseph Schumpeter, Just-in-time delivery, knowledge worker, low skilled workers, Mahatma Gandhi, market clearing, Martin Wolf, means of production, microcredit, new economy, New Urbanism, Occupy movement, peak oil, phenotype, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, quantitative easing, rent-seeking, reserve currency, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, short selling, Silicon Valley, special economic zone, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, transaction costs, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, wages for housework, Wall-E, women in the workforce, working poor, working-age population
The land was needed for biofuels (charcoal in particular) and for food production, and, at a time when the capacity for international trade in energy and foodstuffs was limited, the development of capitalism in Britain threatened to grind to a halt because of intensifying competition on the land between the two uses. The answer lay in going underground to mine coal as a source of energy so the land could be used to grow food alone. Later on, the invention of the steam engine helped revolutionise what capitalism was about as fossil fuel sources became general. A contradiction can often be the ‘mother of invention’. But notice something important here: resort to fossil fuels relieved one contradiction but now, centuries later, it anchors another contradiction between fossil fuel use and climate change. Contradictions have the nasty habit of not being resolved but merely moved around.
3D printing, Ada Lovelace, agricultural Revolution, Airbnb, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, 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, Jacquard loom, Jacques de Vaucanson, James Watt: steam engine, job automation, John von Neumann, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, millennium bug, natural language processing, Norbert Wiener, 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, speech recognition, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, strong AI, technological singularity, The Coming Technological Singularity, 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
We are nowadays the denizens of a digital noosphere: creators, consumers and manipulators of vast amounts of digital data. The deluge of big data that comes from the digitisation of almost everything, and the value for businesses and governments that these data encapsulate, are taking the world economy into a new era increasingly called ‘the second machine age’.1 The ‘first age’ occurred when the invention of the steam engine multiplied humanity’s capacity for manual labour. In the ‘second age’ the computer multiplies our capacity for mental labour. As computers increasingly become more ‘intelligent’, they are bound to transcend their current number-crunching duties and take over jobs traditionally associated with human, white-collar workers. All the signs point in that direction. Within the past two years Google, one of the biggest companies in the computer industry,2 acquired a number of companies in Artificial Intelligence and advanced robotics.
Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century by P. W. Singer
agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Atahualpa, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bill Joy: nanobots, blue-collar work, borderless world, clean water, Craig Reynolds: boids flock, cuban missile crisis, en.wikipedia.org, Ernest Rutherford, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Firefox, Francisco Pizarro, Frank Gehry, friendly fire, game design, George Gilder, Google Earth, Grace Hopper, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, if you build it, they will come, illegal immigration, industrial robot, interchangeable parts, invention of gunpowder, invention of movable type, invention of the steam engine, Isaac Newton, Jacques de Vaucanson, job automation, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Law of Accelerating Returns, Mars Rover, Menlo Park, New Urbanism, pattern recognition, private military company, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, robot derives from the Czech word robota Czech, meaning slave, Rodney Brooks, Ronald Reagan, Schrödinger's Cat, Silicon Valley, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, strong AI, technological singularity, The Coming Technological Singularity, The Wisdom of Crowds, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, Wall-E, Yogi Berra
Like any other change, RMAs do not happen in one single discrete event, one rush of wholesale change. Many seemingly important changes can occur (and distract) before the truly revolutionary part becomes clear. In turn, most revolutions don’t actually grow from one single invention, but from a convergence of technologies. For example, the Industrial Revolution that transformed society and then war in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries actually kicked off with the invention of the steam engine back in 1782. But the steam engine had to be brought together with everything from railroads to telegraphs for it to culminate as the industrial RMA that shaped World War I. A good person to explain is actually another of the major thinkers behind the RMA movement inside the Pentagon, Andrew Marshall. Despite being eighty-three years young, Marshall is the Pentagon’s officially designated “futurist-in-chief,” directing its Office of Net Assessment, akin to an internal think tank for the Pentagon.
This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate by Naomi Klein
1960s counterculture, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, big-box store, bilateral investment treaty, British Empire, business climate, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carbon footprint, clean water, Climategate, cognitive dissonance, colonial rule, Community Supported Agriculture, complexity theory, crony capitalism, decarbonisation, deindustrialization, dematerialisation, Donald Trump, Downton Abbey, energy security, energy transition, equal pay for equal work, Exxon Valdez, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, feminist movement, financial deregulation, food miles, Food sovereignty, global supply chain, hydraulic fracturing, ice-free Arctic, immigration reform, income per capita, Internet Archive, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, market fundamentalism, moral hazard, Naomi Klein, new economy, Nixon shock, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, open borders, patent troll, planetary scale, post-oil, profit motive, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Rana Plaza, Ronald Reagan, smart grid, special economic zone, Stephen Hawking, Stewart Brand, structural adjustment programs, Ted Kaczynski, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, trickle-down economics, Upton Sinclair, uranium enrichment, urban planning, urban sprawl, wages for housework, walkable city, Washington Consensus, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks
The flow rates of rivers were of no concern. Steam engines also worked anywhere, regardless of the geography, which meant that factory owners could shift production from more remote areas to cities like London, Manchester, and Lancaster, where there were gluts of willing industrial workers, making it far easier to fire troublemakers and put down strikes. As an 1832 article written by a British economist explained, “The invention of the steam-engine has relieved us from the necessity of building factories in inconvenient situations merely for the sake of a waterfall.” Or as one of Watt’s early biographers put it, the generation of power “will no longer depend, as heretofore, on the most inconstant of natural causes—on atmospheric influences.”27 Similarly, when Watt’s engine was installed in a boat, ship crews were liberated from having to adapt their journeys to the winds, a development that rapidly accelerated the colonial project and the ability of European powers to easily annex countries in distant lands.
agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, back-to-the-land, British Empire, carbon footprint, collaborative economy, death of newspapers, delayed gratification, distributed generation, en.wikipedia.org, energy security, feminist movement, global village, hydrogen economy, illegal immigration, income inequality, income per capita, interchangeable parts, Internet Archive, invention of movable type, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, labour mobility, Mahatma Gandhi, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, megacity, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Milgram experiment, new economy, New Urbanism, Norbert Wiener, out of africa, Peace of Westphalia, peak oil, planetary scale, Simon Kuznets, Skype, smart grid, smart meter, supply-chain management, surplus humans, the medium is the message, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, transaction costs, upwardly mobile, uranium enrichment, working poor, World Values Survey
Martin Luther, and the reformers who followed, encouraged the mass production of bibles in vernacular so that each Christian convert could be versed in God’s word and be prepared to stand alone before his or her maker, without having to rely on the Church’s emissaries—the priesthood—to interpret God’s will. The Great Schism of Christianity, beginning with the Reformation and followed by the Counter-Reformation, the Thirty Years’ War, and the Peace of Westphalia—which helped establish the modern notion of national sovereignty—changed the social and political face of Europe.47 But the full economic impact of the print revolution had to await the invention of the steam engine by James Watt in 1769.48 The print revolution converged with the coal, steam, and rail revolution to create the First Industrial Revolution. Between 1830 and 1890, in both Europe and North America, print communications underwent a revolution. Efficient steam-powered print presses made the print production process both quick and cheap.49 Public schooling and mass literacy were introduced on both continents, and within two generations produced the first nearly fully literate populations in history.
The Rise of the Network Society by Manuel Castells
Apple II, Asian financial crisis, barriers to entry, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, borderless world, British Empire, capital controls, complexity theory, computer age, Credit Default Swap, declining real wages, deindustrialization, delayed gratification, dematerialisation, deskilling, disintermediation, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, edge city, experimental subject, financial deregulation, financial independence, floating exchange rates, future of work, global village, Hacker Ethic, hiring and firing, Howard Rheingold, illegal immigration, income inequality, industrial robot, informal economy, information retrieval, intermodal, invention of the steam engine, invention of the telephone, inventory management, James Watt: steam engine, job automation, job-hopping, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, laissez-faire capitalism, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, megacity, Menlo Park, new economy, New Urbanism, offshore financial centre, oil shock, open economy, packet switching, planetary scale, popular electronics, post-industrial society, postindustrial economy, prediction markets, Productivity paradox, profit maximization, purchasing power parity, RAND corporation, Robert Gordon, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, social software, South China Sea, South of Market, San Francisco, special economic zone, spinning jenny, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Ted Nelson, the built environment, the medium is the message, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, total factor productivity, trade liberalization, transaction costs, urban renewal, urban sprawl
A last and essential lesson from the industrial revolutions that I consider relevant to this analysis is controversial: although they both brought a whole array of new technologies that actually formed and transformed an industrial system in successive stages, at their core there was fundamental innovation in the generation and distribution of energy. R. J. Forbes, a classic historian of technology, affirms that “the invention of the steam engine is the central fact in the industrial revolution,” followed by the introduction of new prime movers and by the mobile prime mover, under which “the power of the steam-engine could be created where needed and to the extent desired.”35 And although Mokyr insists on the multifaceted character of the industrial revolution, he also thinks that “the protestations of some economic historians notwithstanding, the steam engine is still widely regarded as the quintessential invention of the industrial revolution.”36 Electricity was the central force of the second revolution, in spite of other extraordinary developments in chemicals, steel, the internal combustion engine, telegraphy and telephony.
Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist's Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations by Thomas L. Friedman
3D printing, additive manufacturing, affirmative action, Airbnb, AltaVista, Amazon Web Services, autonomous vehicles, Ayatollah Khomeini, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, blockchain, business process, call centre, centre right, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, corporate social responsibility, crowdsourcing, David Brooks, demand response, demographic dividend, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, Donald Trump, Erik Brynjolfsson, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Ferguson, Missouri, first square of the chessboard / second half of the chessboard, Flash crash, game design, gig economy, global supply chain, illegal immigration, immigration reform, income inequality, indoor plumbing, Internet of things, invention of the steam engine, inventory management, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John von Neumann, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, land tenure, linear programming, low skilled workers, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, Maui Hawaii, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, mutually assured destruction, pattern recognition, planetary scale, pull request, Ralph Waldo Emerson, ransomware, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Florida, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart cities, South China Sea, Steve Jobs, TaskRabbit, Thomas L Friedman, transaction costs, Transnistria, urban decay, urban planning, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, WikiLeaks, women in the workforce, Y2K, Yogi Berra
So a few years later, I began updating in earnest my view of how the Machine worked. A crucial impetus was a book I read in 2014 by two MIT business school professors—Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee—entitled The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies. The first machine age, they argued, was the Industrial Revolution, which accompanied the invention of the steam engine in the 1700s. This period was “all about power systems to augment human muscle,” explained McAfee in an interview, “and each successive invention in that age delivered more and more power. But they all required humans to make decisions about them.” Therefore, the inventions of that era actually made human control and labor “more valuable and important.” Labor and machines were, broadly speaking, complementary, he added.
Money Changes Everything: How Finance Made Civilization Possible by William N. Goetzmann
Albert Einstein, Andrei Shleifer, asset allocation, asset-backed security, banking crisis, Benoit Mandelbrot, Black Swan, Black-Scholes formula, Bretton Woods, Brownian motion, capital asset pricing model, Cass Sunstein, collective bargaining, colonial exploitation, compound rate of return, conceptual framework, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, debt deflation, delayed gratification, Detroit bankruptcy, disintermediation, diversified portfolio, double entry bookkeeping, Edmond Halley, en.wikipedia.org, equity premium, financial independence, financial innovation, financial intermediation, fixed income, frictionless, frictionless market, full employment, high net worth, income inequality, index fund, invention of the steam engine, invention of writing, invisible hand, James Watt: steam engine, joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, laissez-faire capitalism, Louis Bachelier, mandelbrot fractal, market bubble, means of production, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, moral hazard, new economy, passive investing, Paul Lévy, Ponzi scheme, price stability, principal–agent problem, profit maximization, profit motive, quantitative trading / quantitative ﬁnance, random walk, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, shareholder value, short selling, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, spice trade, stochastic process, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, time value of money, too big to fail, trade liberalization, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, tulip mania, wage slave
In his 2005 study of rising inequality in the British Industrial Revolution, he writes: “The shift of income to capitalists was necessary in order to provide the savings needed to implement the new factory methods … it was the rising share of profits that induced the savings that met the demand for capital and allowed output to expand.”4 In short, a financial system that could reward investors with profits—albeit at the expense of rising inequality—induced further investment and sustained technological development. As will be discussed in Part III, the process to develop a system that rewards investment was a long and complex one and it took place principally in Europe. The most telling evidence is that the differential in financial development between China and the West preceded the differences in technological advancement. European financial markets did not suddenly spring up with the invention of the steam engine and the mechanization of manufacturing processes. By the time of the Industrial Revolution in Europe, commercial banks and organized securities exchanges had existed for at least two centuries. When nineteenth-century railway companies wanted to raise capital to lay track and build cars, they had access to a pre-existing widespread class of investors who were accustomed to paying good money for future promised cash flows—there was a demand for investment opportunity and the structural know-how to create products that met this demand.
Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty
accounting loophole / creative accounting, Asian financial crisis, banking crisis, banks create money, Berlin Wall, Branko Milanovic, British Empire, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carbon footprint, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, conceptual framework, corporate governance, correlation coefficient, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, demographic transition, distributed generation, diversification, diversified portfolio, European colonialism, eurozone crisis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial intermediation, full employment, German hyperinflation, Gini coefficient, high net worth, Honoré de Balzac, immigration reform, income inequality, income per capita, index card, inflation targeting, informal economy, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, market bubble, means of production, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, New Urbanism, offshore financial centre, open economy, pension reform, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, randomized controlled trial, refrigerator car, regulatory arbitrage, rent control, rent-seeking, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, Simon Kuznets, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Jobs, The Nature of the Firm, the payments system, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, trade liberalization, very high income, We are the 99%
With these preliminaries out of the way, what can we say about future growth rates? Some economists, such as Robert Gordon, believe that the rate of growth of per capita output is destined to slow in the most advanced countries, starting with the United States, and may sink below 0.5 percent per year between 2050 and 2100.22 Gordon’s analysis is based on a comparison of the various waves of innovation that have succeeded one another since the invention of the steam engine and introduction of electricity, and on the finding that the most recent waves—including the revolution in information technology—have a much lower growth potential than earlier waves, because they are less disruptive to modes of production and do less to improve productivity across the economy. Just as I refrained earlier from predicting demographic growth, I will not attempt now to predict economic growth in the twenty-first century.