People take the current level technological innovation as a given. It’s not.
We are as prosperous and rich as we are today because of specific habits, customs and institutions that have evolved over generations.
People often imagine that humanity is on a linear progression of innovation. That no matter what type of economic or political system was in place, we would still have computers, we’d still have smart phones, we’d still have jet airplanes. It’s not true.
The same way that at a biological level swapping genes through sex facilitates biological evolution, the swapping of ideas through exchange facilitates cultural and technological evolution. What the act of sex is to reproduction, trade is to innovation.
This is not my original idea. It comes from the work of a number of thinkers from Adam Smith to Charles Darwin to Friedrich Hayek. Most recently Matt Ridley has explained this position succinctly in his…
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