July 21st, 2014

The Captain's Prop

The Slaves We All Happily Keep—With Addendum

I'll take a break from a currently tumultuous family life and digress into a thought that has niggled at my brain for about three decades now. Back in college, a friend and I were mulling over beers about a simple question: Why is invention—specifically the rate of invention—accelerating?

Some historians say it is not, that looking at inventions from the distance history provides is like trying to judge the speed of an observed train at a distance without knowing the distance; from farther away, be they historically or in proximity, things appear slower. But this answer is, to me at least, just waving off the preponderance of evidence for an invention acceleration as simply not worth considering.

Back in college, I suggested it was education. More and more are getting more and more education. Could that be it? Perhaps, but this answer simply pushes the question down the road; why are more and more getting educated at greater rates? In other words, what changed in our education system from previous years?

Very recently, I think I've stumbled upon the answer, and I'm not sure I like the implications. More are educated today, more invention happens today, and more of us do less strenuous work today for the same reason that prisoners today Collapse )