Tag: industrial revolution

Agriculture and Husbandry: The Slow-Motion Singularity


I often listen to the radio when following laundry, and today was no exception. Our local NPR affiliate was playing the TED Radio Hour. Remember when TED was kind of neat and exciting… before it revealed itself for what it is: a cliché-ridden academic variant of “business book summaries for executives”? Anyway, the program featured Andrew McAfee‘s TED talk, “Are Droids Taking Our Jobs.” In the course of an otherwise lucid talk, McAfee described the industrial revolution as the ‘only thing that really bent the curve’ of human prosperity and development — the only development that has radically transformed human life and livelihood in our species’ history.

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Scenes from the National Museum of Scotland, Part the First

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I didn’t find it terribly surprising that Scotland’s National Museum presents the industrial revolution as an important component of Scottish national identity. After all, what better way to combat the anti-Pict stereotypes peddled in such racially insensitive works as Brave than to present the Scottish people as industrious and innovative by nature? Because that in no way would ever contribute to offensive stereotypes, now would it?

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Still, the museum’s example of a Jacquard Loom blew me away. It employs what are recognizable as punchcards to weave a pattern. Indeed, a cursory internet search makes clear that such devices are precursors of modern programming; their punchcards directly influenced Charles Babbage’s Analytical EngineFiat Steampunk!


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