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The Pebble and the Avalanche by Moshe Yudkowsky

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Chapter FiveFrom Horses and Buggies to Jet Planes: The Revolution in Manufacturing

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Where do all these machines come from? My house is full of machines, from little clever-but-simple ones like retractable ballpoint pens, to medium-size ones like paper shredders and microwave ovens, all the way to full-size ones like recliners and washing machines. My house is partly a machine: the walls are full of machinery (pipes, switches, cables, and ducts), and so is the roof, with its vents and fans. The furnace, water heater, and air conditioner are hidden in the basement.

I’ve visited reconstructed homes of the late 1700s, and there’s nothing remotely comparable to what we have today: the most intricate machine in the house is a technology that dates ...

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