Chapter

A New Era or an Ephemeral Phenomenon?

Vaclav Smil

in Transforming the Twentieth Century: Volume 2: Technical Innovations and Their Consequences

Published in print April 2006 | ISBN: 9780195168754
Published online September 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780199783601 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0195168755.003.0007
 A New Era or an Ephemeral Phenomenon?

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While the accomplishments of (and the existing problems with) 20th century ingenuity are clear, their implications for the future are highly contested as techno-optimists clash with critics of technical advances. In this context, it is useful to remember that even the most destructive technical advances were not responsible for most of the man-made deaths during the 20th century. There is nothing inevitable about the long-term survival of civilization based on technical ingenuity and high energy consumption: openness and uncertainty best describe our prospects.

Keywords: techno-optimists; technical advances; man-made death; survival; openness; uncertainty

Chapter.  3120 words. 

Subjects: Economic History

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