The Age of Ignorance and Greed

The Scientific Revolution brought upon a new imagined order because of its purpose. In previous times, a ruler gave money to priests, philosophers, and poets in the hope that they would legitimize his rule and maintain social order. Science has no interest in power (after all, it was built upon the belief that we do not actually understand the universe), so it did not serve well for rulers to invest in it. So did though, and that was at the fault of their own ignorance. Generally, today, governments and wealthy patrons allocate funds to education and scholarship in the hopes to obtain new medical, military, and economic powers. Rulers only cared about maintaining the social order and preserving the already existing capabilities rather than acquiring more. It was a different set of priorities.

               The Scientific Revolution has a feedback loop. In order to have research, you need resources, and the only place to get resources is from power, which requires research and science in today’s capital world. The loop depends on the mutual reinforcement of science, politics, and economics. This is why its rooted in capitalism. I really liked Harari’s example of the US Government’s investment into nuclear energy. With nuclear, we now have cheap energy for everyone, specifically every taxpayer, who pays taxes to the government so they can further invest in nuclear and potential make it safer and cheaper. Research can also affect capitalism, prime example the changing landscape of America’s top profitable companies. Instead of producing hard goods, science has allowed for a rise of soft goods. When you buy an iPhone, you’re not just buying a phone, you’re buying access to the Apple Ecosystem, a soft good that wouldn’t be possible without the technological advancements of the company since the 1970s. Inside the ecosystem, you now have access to a variety of apps, like trading apps. In 1899, only 1% of households traded on the stock market. With apps like Robinhood, WeBull, and Acorns, more than half of households invest today. This goes to show the effect technology can have capital. Monsanto’s metamorphosis into a biotechnology business is an example of a company changing with the times, previously making hard goods, now mainly soft goods. When natural resources become scarce, corporations make evolutionary adaptations to adjust to their commercial ecosystem. That is exactly what Monsanto did to survive, abandoning its scavenging practices in an environment that was becoming increasingly hostile to its survival and venturing to the new fertile field of biotechnology, where alpha predators had yet to emerge. Now, Monsanto sits atop the food chain—quite literally.

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