Chapter 5. Platforms for Progress

Relentlessly Forward

Throughout human history, technological improvements have ushered in many developments that have truly shaped human progress. We may like to think of human development as something gradual, made up of small, comfortingly manageable incremental improvements. But the reality is that sudden bursts of energy, often unleashed by or in tandem with technological breakthroughs, have moved mankind forward. They are groundbreaking at the time of their inception, but then they are added to the aggregate of human progress that we call the everyday.

The wheel was once such a development. Much later, the Industrial Revolution enabled the concentration of industry and manufacture, and led, in turn, to gigantic ...

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