The entire human species may be seen as a single data-processing system, with individual humans serving as its chips. We can also understand the whole of history as a process of improving the efficiency of this system, through four basic methods:
1. Increasing the number of processors. A city of 100,000 people has more computing power than a village of 1,000 people.2. Increasing the variety of processors. Different processors may use diverse ways to calculate and analyze data. Using several kinds of processors in a single system may therefore increase its dynamism and creativity. A conversation between a peasant, a priest and a physician may produce novel ideas that would never emerge from a conversation between three hunter-gatherers.3. Increasing the number of connections between processors. There is little point in increasing the mere number and variety of processors if they are poorly connected to each other. A trade network linking ten cities is likely to result in many more economic, technological and social innovations than ten isolated cities.4. Increasing the freedom of movement along existing connections. Connecting processors is hardly useful if data cannot flow freely. Just building roads between ten cities won’t be very useful if they are plagued by robbers, or if some autocratic despot doesn’t allow merchants and travelers to move as they wish.
Information shapes our understanding of ourselves and how we relate to each other. It defines who we are as a species. Yet for all its power, information remains a mystery: Information is scattered, inconsistent, and incomplete.
Biological life forms, and most successfully the human species, develop 'coordination vehicles' to structure the world's unstructured data. Nations, religions, corporations, stories.
Ah-ah-ah-ah-ah… wishing for The Cities of Gold. Ah-ah-ah-ah-ah… some day we will find The Cities of Gold. Do-do-do-do ah-ah-ah, do-do-do-do, Cities of Gold. Do-do-do-do, Cities of Gold. Ah-ah-ah-ah-ah… some day we will find The Cities of Gold.