Innovations did not happen all in one step. There have been many more incremental small steps (or continuous improvements), together with a few break-through innovations for higher productivity. We generally know Sumerians/Muslims invented wheels, battering rams and crank shaft; Chinese invented compass, gunpowder, paper and print; Indians invented the number zero and was the first to discover (by Aryabhata) that planetary orbits around the Sun are ellipses. None, however, have been more innovative in the last 500 years than the Egyptians/Romans that evolved into our Christians today.
Pope Alexander VI (one of the most corrupt Popes that encouraged Martin Luther to push for Protestant Reformation) authored the Treaty of Tordesillas in 1494 after Christopher Columbus returned from his first trip to the Caribbean Islands. This Treaty give most of the Americas to Spain and a small portion to Portugal (today’s Brazil), followed by the 1529 Treaty of Zaragoza that gave all of Africa and almost all of Asia to Portugal, and a small portion to Spain. Spain collected 20% royalty on the value of all trades in the Americas to Spain. Spanish King Philip II (1527-1598) used his wealth to build an armada that was defeated by England in 1588. This armada revealed to England the wealth available in the New World, but England could not risk a challenge to the Pope’s authority. The concept of “company” emerged in England to help share risks among the wealthy investors to explore the New World. The British East India Company (BEIC) was established in 1600 originally to follow the path of Columbus, but instead pursued the more abundant wealth available in Asia, ultimately receiving British military support and charter with monopoly power to trade opium. BEIC produced opium in India, and forcibly imported opium into China, against written Chinese laws in the 1800s. British military backed up the opium trade that took >70,000 tons of silver out of China before corruption destroyed BEIC. The Golden Rule (Do unto others what you want others to do unto you) is haunting the Christian world today, as Southeast Asians learned with the Indians who produced opium to spread opium production to Mexico and South America in the very profitable illicit drug trades that target the USA and European Christians.
The following “waves” of innovation should help us understand the evolution of innovations:
1. Formation of companies in 1600s but did not show up in productivity until the 1830s.
2. Steam Technology in the 1850s backed by military technology (dominated by England)
3. Chemical manufacturing (fertilizers, electricity, steelmaking, etc) in the 1870s (still in Europe). With the participation of Standard Oil monopoly, the USA took over 24% of global manufacturing by 1900, followed by England at 19% and Germany at 13%. The British percentage began to include factories in colonies like India that produced over 1 million tons of opium shipped to China in exchange for a large portion of 70,000 tons of silver taken from China. China did not prepare for Britain’s invasion and did not learn from America’s hard fought revolution that started by rejecting British imports with Stamp and Tea Taxes. Instead, others like Japan joined Christians from Russia, Italy, Spain, Portugal, France and Germany to pillage China. USA built an advance transportation sector (railways, steamships, etc) to achieve global dominance. Education, health and attitudes began to play a more important role (which started to change from Taylor’s theory of management to a more behavioral theory of management).
4. Internal combustion engine began in late 19th century, fueled by more established oil infrastructure, and created “multinational corporations” that focused on profit, not morality. Internal combustion engines sustained innovation and productivity to the wave of inventions.
5. Atomic power and electronics sustained the next level of innovation through the atomic bomb and nuclear energy. Manufacturing efficiency helped USA to become a global leader, especially with the advantage of not entering World War II until after Pearl Harbor. Mainland USA had not been ravaged by war. This is similar to the French Napoleon wars fought in Europe while England stay focused on industrialization in the early 19th century. France was stronger than England entering this period, and England emerged stronger than France afterwards. At this time, globalization was still only at its nascent stage.
6. Internet and genetic technologies began to deliver near real time flow of information at the end of the 20th century, and drove us to the current “Information Age.”
Between 1820 and 1950, total output of global economy increased from $600 billion to $5 trillion. Between 1950 and 2003, total output of global economy increased to $41 trillion (all in 1990 international dollars which is often associated with Purchase Power Parity estimates).
The next waves will undoubtedly include environmental considerations, along with opportunities to implement the Moral Innovation framework to achieve a Homologous World of Harmony which the Chinese have identified thousands of years ago as Datong (大同世界).
1. “Maps of Time” book by David Christian, ISBN 978-0-520-27144-9, University of California Press, Los Angeles, 2011
3. Wu & Associates LLC.