You have arrived at the web home of Noah Brier. This is mostly an archive of over a decade of blogging and other writing. You can read more about me or get in touch. If you want more recent writing of mine, most of that is at my BrXnd marketing x AI newsletter and Why Is This Interesting?, a daily email for the intellectually omnivorous.

September, 2009

How Is Our Era Unique?

Economist Robin Hanson's unique changes in our era: real-time global communication, lack of contact with 'strange cultures', and increased wealth.
I often find myself arguing that for all the change we're seeing in the world at the moment, most of it is really just incremental. Communication speed, for instance, has been increasing at a pretty rapid clip for awhile now and the rise of self-publishing of the last five years is an extension of the camcorder (YouTube is the internet's America's Funniest Home Videos). Anyway, over at Overcoming Bias, economist Robin Hanson outlines three changes he finds significant enough to dub "unique": "We are entering an era where most anyone can quickly talk to most anyone else who can talk" (he talks about not just the spread of English but also translation tools), we don't have contact with "strange cultures" ("Our distant ancestors heard rumors from travelers about distant strange cultures.") and how rich we are ("each thinking-talking person having a median income so far above his or her subsistence level"). Whether or not you accept Hanson's three examples or not, it's an interesting thought exercise. What would you add?
September 20, 2009
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