industrial-revolution   106

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Opinion | It’s Not Technology That’s Disrupting Our Jobs - The New York Times
The insecure nature of work is a result of decisions by corporations and policymakers.
future  industrial-revolution 
november 2018 by whimsley
King Kong and Cold Fusion: Counterfactual analysis and the History of Technology
How “contingent” is technological history? Relying on models from evolutionary epistemology, I argue for an analogy with Darwinian Biology and thus a much greater degree of contingency than is normally supposed. There are three levels of contingency in technological development. The crucial driving force behind technology is what I call S-knowledge, that is, an understanding of the exploitable regularities of nature (which includes “science” as a subset). The development of techniques depend on the existence of epistemic bases in S. The “inevitability” of technology thus depends crucially on whether we condition it on the existence of the appropriate S-knowledge. Secondly, even if this knowledge emerges, there is nothing automatic about it being transformed into a technique that is, a set of instructions that transforms knowledge into production. Third, even if the techniques are proposed, there is selection which reflects the preferences and biases of an economy and injects another level of indeterminacy and contingency into the technological history of nations.
Moslem conquest of Europe, or a Mongol conquest, or a post-1492 epidemic, or a victory of the counter-reformation would have prevented the Industrial Revolution (Joel Mokyr)
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november 2017 by nhaliday
“Editor’s Introduction to The New Economic History and the Industrial Revolution,” J. Mokyr (1998) | A Fine Theorem
I taught a fun three hours on the Industrial Revolution in my innovation PhD course this week. The absolutely incredible change in the condition of mankind that began in a tiny corner of Europe in an otherwise unremarkable 70-or-so years is totally fascinating. Indeed, the Industrial Revolution and its aftermath are so important to human history that I find it strange that we give people PhDs in social science without requiring at least some study of what happened.

My post today draws heavily on Joel Mokyr’s lovely, if lengthy, summary of what we know about the period. You really should read the whole thing, but if you know nothing about the IR, there are really five facts of great importance which you should be aware of.

1) The world was absurdly poor from the dawn of mankind until the late 1800s, everywhere.
2) The average person did not become richer, nor was overall economic growth particularly spectacular, during the Industrial Revolution; indeed, wages may have fallen between 1760 and 1830.
3) Major macro inventions, and growth, of the type seen in England in the late 1700s and early 1800s happened many times in human history.
4) It is hard for us today to understand how revolutionary ideas like “experimentation” or “probability” were.
5) The best explanations for “why England? why in the late 1700s? why did growth continue?” do not involve colonialism, slavery, or famous inventions.
econotariat  broad-econ  economics  growth-econ  cjones-like  summary  divergence  industrial-revolution  list  top-n  mokyr-allen-mccloskey  hi-order-bits  aphorism  wealth  wealth-of-nations  malthus  revolution  innovation  the-trenches  science  europe  the-great-west-whale  britain  conceptual-vocab  history  early-modern  technology  long-short-run  econ-metrics  data  time-series  conquest-empire  india  asia  scale  attaq  enlightenment-renaissance-restoration-reformation  roots  cycles  flux-stasis  whiggish-hegelian 
october 2017 by nhaliday
Muscle, steam and combustion
Vaclav Smil’s Energy and Civilization is a monumental history of how humanity has harnessed muscle, steam and combustion to build palaces and skyscrapers, light the night and land on the Moon. Want to learn about the number of labourers needed to build Egypt’s pyramids of Giza, or US inventor Thomas Edison’s battles with Nikola Tesla and George Westinghouse to electrify homes and cities, or the upscaling of power stations and blast furnaces in the twentieth century? Look no further.
pdf  books  review  vaclav-smil  pseudoE  deep-materialism  energy-resources  biophysical-econ  the-world-is-just-atoms  big-picture  history  antiquity  iron-age  medieval  early-modern  farmers-and-foragers  civilization  technology  industrial-revolution  heavy-industry  🔬  phys-energy  the-bones  environment  scale  economics  growth-econ  broad-econ  efficiency  chart  dirty-hands  fluid  input-output 
august 2017 by nhaliday
A Review of Avner Greif’s Institutions and the Path to the Modern Economy: Lessons from Medieval Trade
Avner Greif’s Institutions and the Path to the Modern Economy: Lessons from Medieval Trade (Cambridge University Press, 2006) is a major work in the ongoing project of many economists and economic historians to show that institutions are the fundamental driver of all economic history, and of all contemporary differences in economic performance. This review outlines the contribution of this book to the project and the general status of this long standing ambition.
pdf  spearhead  gregory-clark  essay  article  books  review  economics  growth-econ  broad-econ  institutions  history  early-modern  europe  the-great-west-whale  divergence  🎩  industrial-revolution  medieval  critique  roots  world  measurement  empirical  realness  cultural-dynamics  north-weingast-like  modernity  microfoundations  aphorism  track-record 
july 2017 by nhaliday
spaceships - Can there be a space age without petroleum (crude oil)? - Worldbuilding Stack Exchange

What was really important to our development of technology was not oil, but coal. Access to large deposits of high-quality coal largely fueled the industrial revolution, and it was the industrial revolution that really got us on the first rungs of the technological ladder.

Oil is a fantastic fuel for an advanced civilisation, but it's not essential. Indeed, I would argue that our ability to dig oil out of the ground is a crutch, one that we should have discarded long ago. The reason oil is so essential to us today is that all our infrastructure is based on it, but if we'd never had oil we could still have built a similar infrastructure. Solar power was first displayed to the public in 1878. Wind power has been used for centuries. Hydroelectric power is just a modification of the same technology as wind power.

Without oil, a civilisation in the industrial age would certainly be able to progress and advance to the space age. Perhaps not as quickly as we did, but probably more sustainably.

Without coal, though...that's another matter

What would the industrial age be like without oil and coal?:

Out of the ashes:
It took a lot of fossil fuels to forge our industrial world. Now they're almost gone. Could we do it again without them?

But charcoal-based industry didn’t die out altogether. In fact, it survived to flourish in Brazil. Because it has substantial iron deposits but few coalmines, Brazil is the largest charcoal producer in the world and the ninth biggest steel producer. We aren’t talking about a cottage industry here, and this makes Brazil a very encouraging example for our thought experiment.

The trees used in Brazil’s charcoal industry are mainly fast-growing eucalyptus, cultivated specifically for the purpose. The traditional method for creating charcoal is to pile chopped staves of air-dried timber into a great dome-shaped mound and then cover it with turf or soil to restrict airflow as the wood smoulders. The Brazilian enterprise has scaled up this traditional craft to an industrial operation. Dried timber is stacked into squat, cylindrical kilns, built of brick or masonry and arranged in long lines so that they can be easily filled and unloaded in sequence. The largest sites can sport hundreds of such kilns. Once filled, their entrances are sealed and a fire is lit from the top.
q-n-a  stackex  curiosity  gedanken  biophysical-econ  energy-resources  long-short-run  technology  civilization  industrial-revolution  heavy-industry  multi  modernity  frontier  allodium  the-world-is-just-atoms  big-picture  ideas  risk  volo-avolo  news  org:mag  org:popup  direct-indirect  retrofit  dirty-hands  threat-modeling  duplication  iteration-recursion  latin-america  track-record  trivia  cocktail  data 
june 2017 by nhaliday

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