accelerating evolution

Bill Benzon (
Thu, 17 Jun 1999 09:45:17 -0400

Date: Thu, 17 Jun 1999 09:45:17 -0400
From: Bill Benzon <>
Subject: accelerating evolution wrote:

> I am afraid I can't do so, also because I have problems in understanding the
> question.. What do you want to learn? Could you explain again? I don't know
> whether the following answers your question:When I look at the evolutionary rate
> of knowledge increase, I only can observe how it increases - each time
> exponentially - with
> i) symbolic spoken language (since 200 000 years, my guess, based on
> archeological findings of cultural artefacts, including the origin of burial
> rituals, which indicate to me the possibility to think about the far away
> future, something I can imagine only to happen when you have language),
> ii) written language (since some 5 000 years ago, leading to pyramids, Greek
> philosophers, ...),
> iii) printed language (since some 500 years ago, at least in W. Europe (since
> longer in China, but maybe they were hampered by the kind of symbols they use))
> leading to science,
> iv) electronic language: computers and Internet (let' say: since some 5 years
> ago).

Let's juggle the dates a bit. Let's assume that what you see 200,000 years ago is
Merlin Donald's mimetic culture and the language they have isn't quite as
sophisticated as any language we know. Let's say that language as we know it is
about 50,000 years old. And let's push the computer back to 50 years ago (more or
less when the digital computer was first built). That gives us major cultural epocs
following one another at intervals that decrease by an order of magnitude:

50,000 years ago: speech
5000 years ago: writing
500 years ago: printing
50 years ago: computing

So, what did happen 5 years ago? And why the order of magnitude effect?

William Benzon
Senior Scientist
Meta4 Incorporated
33-41 Newark Street
Hoboken, NJ 07030 USA
voice: 201.656.0906
fax:   201.656.0901
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