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A History Lesson
Date last modified
2015 Easter Day
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Change and Causality

Change

The only thing that is constant is change. (Heraclitus ca. 500 BC) Best to start this section with a paradox. But first an apology. The following sections are labeled disruptions, which might lead one to believe that they happened suddenly. Of course on a cosmic time scale, that is surely true, but on a human scale these "disruptions" might have taken many generations. C'est la vie.

Disruption one

The rise of agricultural civilizations 30,000 years ago coincided with the lengthening of the human life span to allow the luxury of grandparents' survival to pass knowledge on to their grandchildren. The tribalism of the past was subsumed by every large aggregation of humanity can could accumulate surplus, at first for survival in times of low food availability and late to support an aristocracy rooted in and sustained by warfare.

Disruption two

The rise of recorded histories 3000 years ago allowed the luxury of written history to pass knowledge on to all surviving progeny.

Disruption three

The rise of machines 300 years ago driven by external and storable sources of energy was the first "force-multiplier" that could run without constant human inputs.

  • Programs are entirely syntactical
  • Minds have a semantics
  • Syntax is not the same as, nor by itself sufficient for, semantics

Disruption four

The rise of computers 30 years ago to be a constant companion even to the children changed the way that information was retrieved for everyone that could afford a cell phone of modest capability.

Disruption five

The rise of social media 3 years ago takes us full circle back to the tribes of 30,000 years ago, except now the tribes are self-created, self-sustaining and self-distructive.