The Revolution is here–with some added baggage

In Harari’s view, there is a strong link between science, empire and capitalism, which is bound in a sort of positive feedback loop (Harari, p.272). More or less, governments (empires) desire power, and scientific discovery can give them new tools that can be used to their advantage. Harari gives the example of the Cook expedition, financed by The Royal Society, which produced a vast amount of new (to them) knowledge concerning geographical, astronomical, and other fields of study concerning the unknown parts of the world (Harari, p.277). This knowledge was later used when settlers came to live in these newly discovered fertile lands, displacing and often either eliminating outright or substantially reducing any local native populations. In this example we have seen how a government can use and direct scientific research for economic or capitalistic goals.

I would definitely agree with Harari that one of the great forces driving scientific progress and that whole feedback loop mentioned earlier is the concept of “progress”. Harai succinctly sums up one of the main ideas of progress as “[t]he entire global pie can grow” (Harari, p.310), i.e. we can keep on developing new technologies to improve the lives of everyone. It is this belief in progress, in improvement, that helps drive the scientific-capitalist loop. However, as we have seen when discussing technological fixes, progress is usually achieved at the expense of degrading or harming something else, so the very word itself, progress, is something of a misnomer.

1 thought on “The Revolution is here–with some added baggage”

  1. I really liked your characterisation of the “positive feedback loop.” I thought it was perfect that you tied this weeks theme into that of the last week’s reading on technological fixes. Over all, your blog post is well written and uses some creative ideas and examples to help prove and support the points you are trying to make.

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