Innovation has shaped human society and daily life in every age. Its power is such that historians and archeologists today define broad periods of human history in terms of the innovations that have distinguished them: the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, the Iron Age, the Industrial Age, the Atomic Age, the Digital Age, and so forth. While each of these labels refers to a technology, innovation is much broader than technology. Indeed, the impact of innovation can be seen over the centuries in such diverse areas of human endeavor as religion, social organization, architecture, military tactics, medicine, agriculture, and the arts.

Even periods popularly regarded as stagnant have been altered importantly by technological innovation. For ...

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