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A Genealogy of Technology and Power Since 1500

This is kind of amazing: Calculating Empires is a project by Kate Crawford and Vladan Joler attempting to map how technology and human social structures have changed and evolved since 1500. This is just a tiny bit of the large genealogical map:

snippet of a map of the genealogy of technology and power since 1500

Calculating Empires is a large-scale research visualization exploring how technical and social structures co-evolved over five centuries. The aim is to view the contemporary period in a longer trajectory of ideas, devices, infrastructures, and systems of power. It traces technological patterns of colonialism, militarization, automation, and enclosure since 1500 to show how these forces still subjugate and how they might be unwound. By tracking these imperial pathways, Calculating Empires offers a means of seeing our technological present in a deeper historical context. And by investigating how past empires have calculated, we can see how they created the conditions of empire today.

See also Anatomy of an AI System. (via @kurtbandersen)

Discussion  4 comments

Manqueman Edited

I've been wondering of late how much we've progressed other than in the technological area.
TBH, being in the US at this time might be inciting a bias but I'm wondering. Are we better than we were five hundred years ago?

Andrew C.

I mean, objectively, more people have more leisure time, don't have to organize their entire year around growing/finding/storing food, have access to vaccines and antibiotics, durable clothing and shelter, safe water, access to literacy, etc. I do think it's important to not lose sight of that.

Is that all well-distributed enough? Def no! And lots of new bad stuff. But would I rather live in the 1500s? Probably not.

Lorem Ipsum

There has been some research that people in pre-industrial societies actually did less work than we do.

Pre-industrial workers had a shorter workweek than today's

Andrew C.

Barring the leisure notion, which I'm fine with, I'd still personally rather live in the world of vaccines and antibiotics.

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