The Disadvantages of Being the Machine

The Machine makes us more powerful, and this additional power was always a problem. We evolved in small-scale hunter-gatherer societies – and in our transition to large-scale societies – what we call Civilization – we did not have the ability to control the new power that we had.

It made us think we were wiser – when we were not. It made us superhuman, and capable of ruling over the humans around us – or in us. This internal split – the division into the conscious and the unconscious – would complicate much of our social life.


Historians usually begin Western Civilization with the Greeks. But they should begin it earlier, with Mesopotamia – our first civilization. The basic material here was clay – they used to to write on (writing was one of the key features of Civilization) and as a building material. Sun-dried bricks were cheap, and lasted a quite while in a dry climate.

The Egyptian dynasties used sandstone as a building material – faced with harder rocks, such as marble. And made big improvements in Agriculture – made possible by the periodic flooding of the Nile River. And used papyrus as a writing material. And most important – created the large social hierarchies – that are still with us today, in the Business world.

The Greeks built on all this, including a written language taken from the Phoenicians. But they added something crucial – Intelligence and Creativity. They invented the arts and sciences that are still with us today. Without the political skills to build a larger State.

This was provided by the Romans, that conquered them easily – and went on to form an Empire that included most of the world. They had a Social Machine, a military machine – that was too successful – it didn’t know when to stop. And eventually collapsed completely.


All this could be summarized, by noting that we did not have adequate skills of Governance – and still don’t.

We have a global economy – without the means to govern it.

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