Knowledge and Capital

But, again, the situation for ideas is no worse than for modern specialized machinery, where an obsolete piece, fitting no operating system, is completely worthless. This becomes increasingly true with increasing specialisation.

A pair of dentist's pincers could still be used in woodworking, whereas a program module for a modern dishwasher cannot be used for any other purpose than in a dishwasher of exactly that brand for which it was produced.

Ideas becoming obsolete are scrapped, just like machines. A seeming difference is that machines wear out from use, whereas ideas wear out from non-use. Looking closer we, however, find that, though machines wear out from fatigue when in operation, they also wear out from corrosion and lack of attention when left idle.

Ideas and machinery both also wear out from becoming obsolete, which is an attribute derived from the macro environment, when the idea or the machine does not fit in any longer.

Fig. 2.9: The mysterious Antikythera gearbox. It was found by some Greekfishermen and sponge divers in 1900 in a shipwreck close to the tiny island of Antikythera where the fishermen took shelter during a storm. It could be dated from the first Century B.C. The perishable metal wheels had of course decayed but when the gadget dried it showed a complex system of dials and gearwheels. In 1972 Derek Price, using X-ray, found out the entire complex system of 32 gear wheels moving together when a protruding central axis was rotated By the ratios of the gears he was able to establish that it had been used as a complex analog computer for calculating the positions of the sun and moon in relation to those of the fixed stars. Nobody suspected that antique technology had achieved such a level of sophistication, the whole thing more resembling some 18th Century clockwork. Notably it took 70 years to decipher the use of the gadget.

Fig. 2.9: The mysterious Antikythera gearbox. It was found by some Greekfishermen and sponge divers in 1900 in a shipwreck close to the tiny island of Antikythera where the fishermen took shelter during a storm. It could be dated from the first Century B.C. The perishable metal wheels had of course decayed but when the gadget dried it showed a complex system of dials and gearwheels. In 1972 Derek Price, using X-ray, found out the entire complex system of 32 gear wheels moving together when a protruding central axis was rotated By the ratios of the gears he was able to establish that it had been used as a complex analog computer for calculating the positions of the sun and moon in relation to those of the fixed stars. Nobody suspected that antique technology had achieved such a level of sophistication, the whole thing more resembling some 18th Century clockwork. Notably it took 70 years to decipher the use of the gadget.

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