What’s with the massive boom of technology and invention over the last century and a half compared to the slow advancement of the many centuries before?

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What’s with the massive boom of technology and invention over the last century and a half compared to the slow advancement of the many centuries before?

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Technology begets technology. More people freed up from subsistence work puts more minds to work on innovation, and so you see a somewhat exponential growth of technology over the millennia.

Look at the course of history

A million years to go from nothing to stone tools

100,000 years to go from stone tools to agriculture

5,000 years to go from agriculture to metalworking

2,000 years to go from metalworking to steel

Then the race is really on, and we race through late antiquity and the middle ages developing weapons and technologies at a rapid pace. 1000 years from romans building stone arches to ships armed with cannons sailing the globe.

440 years after the first circumnavigation we land on the moon.

It’s due to a principle called Accelerated Change. Each advancement of technology forms a brick. When the next person comes along to do further research and advance that piece of technology, they now have a brick to stand on. When they die, and the next person comes along, they now have 2 bricks to stand on.

The more bricks in your foundation, the faster you can advance. In the last century and a half, the world’s population has become more dense and organized. Instead of individuals like Tesla and Edison experimenting in their living rooms, we now have entire organizations and corporate entities carrying out research around the clock, increasing productivity to heights that our forefathers could only dream of.

In the previous 75 years we had the telephone, radio, airplane and cars, some would argue those are the biggest leaps in technology.

We build technology on top of technology.
We could not invent the car before discovering the wheels, we could not send then get something back from space before discovering rocket fuel.

Since industrialization it went a bit crazier than before.

An excellent question!

More humans, with more prosperity, with longer lives, who know how to read, leads to more innovation. Humans invent things, so more humans living in better conditions leads to more inventions.