According to Harari, empires essentially didn’t exist until the scientific revolution. Before the scientific revolution, the closest thing to an empire was taking over territory in order to defend land. After the scientific revolution however, empires wanted to gain more resources and territory in order to further their scientific discoveries. Scientific advances, especially in weapons, also allowed for empires to dominate other countries that had inferior weaponry. Advances in machinery also allowed for mass production of products that allowed for companies to manufacture products for less money, which ultimately lead to capitalism.
Harari states that prior to the scientific revolution, cultures weren’t focused on progress but believed that there were problems that simply couldn’t be solved. With science however, many problems became much more solvable. From there, it’s easy to make the jump from unsolvable social problems to Harari’s idea of progress. I would argue however, that cultures were looking to progress, however they simply didn’t know how. For example, just because the Greeks thought that people got struck by lightning because Zeus was angry, that didn’t mean they didn’t try to make sacrifices to please their god. Instead of believing that cultures weren’t worried with progressing, I think they simply didn’t really know how. This also applies to empires. It’s not that cultures didn’t want to conquer more land, they just didn’t have the technology to do so.