I was thinking today about some of the great thinkers in history, and how the vast majority of the great minds had so little access to information compared to the average person in the present day.
It’s sort of sad when you think about it. Take any great thinker from history, and then think about the logistics required for him or her to get the level of education they received. They had to go to school, study, get books from libraries–if they were available at all. If you were reading and you found a word you didn’t know, you had to go find a dictionary and hope you could find it in there. Not to mention that the mundane day-to-day tasks also took longer and were more difficult. And yet, there were people thinking deep philosophical thoughts, inventing new technologies, writing great books, founding nations, etc. etc.
Compare them to me: I have almost instantaneous access to all the recorded knowledge in human history via the internet, I can have it translated instantly if need be, and I can do it while sitting at my desk. On paper, I should probably be more well-educated and accomplished than the entire population of the world in the 1600s. But I’m not. If somebody from past times came to the present, they’d be appalled by how little I’d done with the wealth of resources I have.
Suppose John Locke had been able to access the internet. He probably would have invented the perfect system of government in 10 minutes, if he kept up his past rate of productivity. How many times over could the great economic minds have solved the U.S. economic crisis in the time I spent watching cat videos?
I feel like an under-achiever, I guess is what I’m saying.