What forces have shaped humanity most?

Kurt Andersen: I would say that the various technologies beginning, or at least having a spiking point in the middle of the 19th Century, with photography, and the telegraph, and the railroads which all came to be history in the same decade or two. But that really is a set of forces, technological innovation and capitalist, or I suppose non-capitalist, exploitation of those technologies have led us to where we are today. Because to me, the Internet and television and all the rest – jet planes even – are just refinements on what was essentially invented between 1825 and 1850. The technological innovations right at the middle of the 19th Century that I mentioned – telegraph, photography, speed, steam engines – obviously steam engines came a little earlier – but got going in the 1930s and ‘40s – that moment, if you can call 20 years a moment, is hugely influential.

Recorded On: July 5, 2007

All our gadgets were really invented in the 1840s.

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