We are at the beginning of history.
In the 4.5 billion years of Earth’s existence, humans have been here for 200,000 years, far under one percent of the history of the planet. Further shaving down that fraction of a percent, modern civilization only formed 6,000 years ago, and the Industrial Revolution began under 300 years ago. The internet, in its initial form as ARPANET, is 53 years old, and the World Wide Web is 33. By every standard possible, we are only in the nascent stages of history.
Yet, when the past is all we’ve ever known and the future only lies in our imagination, we often forget the expansiveness of this timeline — our memories are short. Counter to our intuition, our bedrock institutions are contestable, and the processes that seem so deeply entrenched now can be reconceived in a myriad of ways. The future may look nothing like the world as we know it.Continue reading Editor’s Note →