When the founding fathers wrote the U.S. Constitution in the 1780s, life on planet earth had changed very slowly over the previous 10,000 years. Life in 1780 wasn’t all that different from life in 1500. Life in 1500 wasn’t all that different from life in 1250. Life in 1250 wasn’t all that different from life in 1000. And so on, and so on.
But then the human experience changed completely: Where we live, how long we live, when we work, when we sleep, how we go about our lives. It’s time we told that story. This is the Industrial Revolutions.
Have you ever looked at a city skyline and found yourself totally in awe of human accomplishment?
Or is that just me?
I’m Dave Broker, and this is my podcast, the Industrial Revolutions.
Over the last 10 years I worked in politics. I worked to elect people who would make a positive difference.
About a year ago I was talking to someone across the aisle. It occurred to us that neither party was thinking about the problems of tomorrow: AI replacing human labor, genetic manipulation, the ethical considerations of turning consciousness into computer data.
I mean, don’t get me wrong: health care, net neutrality, immigration, these are important issues. But before we know it, we’re going to have to address some real world-changing stuff.
To understand the ways the world is going to change, perhaps it’s time to think about how our lives have already been upended.
When the founding fathers wrote the U.S. Constitution in the 1780s, life on planet earth had changed very slowly over the previous 10,000 years.
Life in 1780 wasn’t all that different from life in 1500. Life in 1500 wasn’t all that different from life in 1250. Life in 1250 wasn’t all that different from life in 1000. And so on, and so on.
But then the human experience changed completely.
Just in these last 30 years I’ve been alive, we’ve seen mail turn into email and phones turn into cell phones. CDs and DVDs replaced cassettes and VHS tapes. And then Spotify and Netflix went and replaced CDs and DVDs. Violent crime fell so much that the problem of gentrification replaced the problem of white flight. Cars became way more fuel efficient. Acid rain became a major concern, and then we fixed it. We legalized same-sex marriage – unthinkable when I was a child. China went from taking our jobs to sending their own to Africa. Oh, and we’ve just about eradicated extreme poverty across the world.
None of this was thinkable when my parents were born. Going to the moon was wasn’t thinkable when their parents were born. None of the modern world could have possibly been conceivable to Adam Smith or Thomas Jefferson.
Consider this. In 1700, over 60% of the French workforce farmed. Today it’s under 3%. Back then, only about 2% of the world’s population spoke English. Now it’s over 20%. Women were considered property. Slavery was considered normal. Hardly any humans received a formal education. Even fewer were allowed to choose their government.
Guns didn’t shoot straight. There was no dictionary. Traveling from the Atlantic to the Pacific took months instead of hours. No one knew how to prevent diseases because, medically speaking, nobody really knew what diseases were.
Everything about our lives has changed because of the Industrial Revolutions – That’s right, revolutions plural. I’ll get to that in a few episodes. – Where we live, how long we live, when we work, when we sleep, how we go about our lives. It’s time we told that story.
In this podcast, we’ll be exploring the transformations of the past 250 years on our technologies, our economies, our governments, our families, and our day-to-day existence.
I hope you'll join us.
The Industrial Revolutions podcast: coming February 2019.
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