上级分类: 创新

Breakthroughs in Societies

Which societies produce breakthrough technology?

YAML 问题

A small number of societies have produced almost all of the breakthrough technologies in human history. Social conditions that allow rapid innovation in technology and industry are rare and fragile. What are these conditions? How do they translate into technological progress?

This interesting question comes from this on-line meeting: Ben Landau, Bismarck Analysis, via Foresight Institute.


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他们可能具有心理甚至遗传成分。例如,狩猎与耕种可能选择了具有完全不同能力的人,在一种情况下,结果与努力并没有太大关系(可以说与各种想法的潜意识“烹饪”有关),而在在其他情况下,它们与完成的工作量密切相关。

因此,我想说,这与这些自然倾向有很大关系,而且还与社会如何从经济上获得回报有关。

They may have psychological and even genetic components. For example, hunting vs farming, may have selected people for completely different set of abilities, where in one case, the results are not very much correlated with efforts (more related with subconscious "cooking" of various ideas so to speak), whereas in other case they are closely related with the amount of work done.

So, I'd say, it has a lot to do with those natural propensities, but also, on how society rewards them economically.


简而言之,在所有社会案例中,本·兰道的三个要点都得到了识别,在这些案例中,您可以获得许多突破性的技术:

1。财富的积累接近经济生产。 _在与经济生产密切相关的人们手中积累的财富,其社会力量的来源是原始的经济生产本身。在这里,“积累”不是“收入”(如果您的支出=收入,则您没有积累任何东西)。该声明不是针对特定的个人,而是针对整个社会(“如果您缩小并查看一堆财富在哪里部署”)。例如,您会发现一个社会,其中有牧师或宗教人士积累财富(美索不达米亚早期或中世纪欧洲早期)。您可以找到政治领导人在这里积累财富的社会(例如在罗马帝国)。您还可以找到人们自己逐渐参与经济生产的社会(手工业者,农民,工业家),这些社会正在积累和积累盈余并决定如何分配盈余。当您这样做时,不仅可以拥有收入,还可以拥有大量财富,您可以用它们以重要方式重塑社会。

_此外,关于积累的一个有趣的事情是,它倾向于与行业规模的关联性较小,而与它的发展和新兴,事物在不断扩展并变得相对重要的更多关系则在于看到政治上相关财富的积累。

_那些紧密参与经济生产的人,一旦获得授权,便能在其中发挥作用,从而有助于创造突破性技术。而当将军和州长之间发生积累时(例如在罗马帝国中),这些人是从奴隶打工的大农场上赚钱的,他们并没有真正参与其中,也不知道农业如何运转。他们不会在农业上进行创新,因为这不是他们的工作-他们知道,您致富的方法是征服其他国家。当然,它们可以在军事意义上具有创新性……

2。容忍破坏。 _您需要一种相对能容忍新权力基础的文化,并且人们会想出新的大规模做事方法。它通常可能确实在局部损害正在流离失所的事物。约瑟夫·熊彼特(Joseph Schumpeter)将该过程称为“创造性破坏的过程”-“您将迎来一个新行业,比以前的行业要好得多,从而使旧的行业被摧毁”(例如,超市取代了面包店,绿色食品杂货店和屠夫)。如今,我们称此为“破坏”。这在通信技术的情况下最为明显,在这种情况下,建立媒体源已被更新的基于Internet的媒体源所取代。破坏容忍度可能较低。例如,您可以将Uber视为破坏性技术之一,但是在法国,出租车司机暴动并摧毁了Uber司机的汽车。您不会在美国发生这种情况,因为我们对做新事的人有更大的法律容忍度。甚至在法律上,例如在美国,都有基于先例的被动做法,“您做任何事,我们稍后将决定是否做得好。” -与欧洲类似。“必须先对法律进行定义,然后才能合法。” _

3。基于逻辑的文化。 _非常合乎逻辑的思想流派,在文化中非常重要。为了做一个很好的物理工程,必须有足够的人对这种非常逻辑的思想感到满意,他们非常分析,这样他们不仅可以进行经验方面的研究,还可以进行假设的思考。探索后果。在现代世界中,这可以称为“科学唯物主义”,“理性主义”,这似乎非常有效。在其他具有物理技术的文化中,您会看到与之相当的东西,例如学业主义或法制主义,或者某种非常合乎逻辑的文化,为“书呆子进入杂草”提供了广阔的社交空间。这更多是凭经验得出的结论,但似乎适合进行大型工程,这对于增量技术和突破性技术都是必需的。

Paraphrasing, the 3 main points from Ben Landau were identified in all the cases of societies, in which you're getting lots of breakthrough technology:

1. Wealth accumulation close to economic production. Accumulation of wealth in the hands of people who are very closely involved in the economic production, and the source of their power in society is the raw economic production itself. Here, "accumulation" is not "income" (if your expenses = income, you're not accumulating anything). This statement is not about particular individuals, but at the society in general ("if you zoom out, and look where the piles of wealth are deployed"). You can find societies that, for example, have priests or religious figures accumulating wealth (early Mesopotamian, or early Medieval Europe). You can find societies, where political leaders accumulate wealth (like in Roman Empire). You can also find societies where people themselves come to be deeply involved in the economic production (craftsmen, farmers, industrialists) the ones who are building up and accumulating the surplus, and deciding how to deploy it. When you're doing this, it does not only allow to have income, but also have piles of wealth, that you can use to reshape society in important ways.

Also, one interesting thing about the accumulation, is that it tends to be associated less with just the size of the industry, and a lot more with whether it's growing and new, where things are expanding and becoming relatively more important, is where you tend to see accumulation of politically relevant fortunes.

Those people who are closely involved in the economic production, when empowered, they where the interventions can make a difference, and that contributes to the creation of breakthrough technologies. Whereas, when the accumulation is happening among generals and governors (like in Roman Empire), these people are making their money from large farms worked by slaves, and they are not really involved and don't know how agriculture works. They are not going to innovate in agriculture, as it's not what they do - they know that the way you get richer is by conquering other nations. Of course, they can be innovative in the military sense then...

2. Disruption-tolerance. You need a culture that is relatively tolerant of new power bases, and people coming up with new ways of doing things on a large scale. It can often be really locally-damaging to the things that are getting displaced. Joseph Schumpeter calls this "the process of creative destruction" -- "you have a new industry coming that works so much better than previous one, such that the old one gets destroyed" (e.g., supermarket displacing the baker and green grocer, and butcher). Nowadays we call this "disruption." This is most obvious in cases of communication technology, where establishment media sources are displaced by newer internet-based media sources. The disruption-tolerance may be low. For example, you can think of Uber as one of the disruptive technologies, but in France, taxi drivers rioted and destroyed the cars of Uber drivers. You don't have that happen in the U.S., as we have more legal tolerance towards people doing new things. It may be even in the law, like, e.g., in the U.S. there is precedent-based reactive practice, -- "You do whatever, and we will later decide if it is good." -- vs. like in Europe "Things have to be defined in law before they are legal."

3. Logic-based culture. A very logical school of thought that's quite prominent in the culture. In order to do very good physical engineering, there have to be enough people who are comfortable with this sort of very logical thought, -- very analytical, so that they can do not just the empirical side, but also the thinking through, doing hypothesis generation to explore consequences. In the modern world, this is something that may be called "scientific materialism", "rationalism" -- which seem to work very well for this. In other cultures that have physical technology you'll see some equivalent of this, e.g., scholasticism, or legalism, or some sort of very logical culture that gives a wide social space for "nerds to get into the weeds." This is more of an empirical claim, but it seems to fit that this is a thing you would need to do the type of large scale engineering, which may be necessary for both incremental and breakthrough technology.


可能是那些促进了不同人群之间的互动的社会(如城市等多元文化的地方),并鼓励了思想复制(中国)。

Perhaps those societies that facilitate interactions between diverse people (multi-cultural places like cities) and encourage idea copying (China).


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