TED Conversations

  • Keith W
  • Chicago, IL
  • United States


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If the Industrial Revolution did not begin in Western Europe, could it have or would it have began somewhere else?

I read "Guns Germs and Steel" by Jared Diamond and it really made me think. He said once "If another continent was blessed with environment and resources like Europeans, than they would have built skyscrapers and Helicopters" or something to that effect. I dont want this to turn into a racial/cultural debate by any means. I am merely asking if Technology was inevitable? I believe Diamond was correct in much of his assumptions he made in his book, but i do believe he was being overly deterministic? Anyway, is modern society just a fluke? What would have happened if the Industrial Revolution did not begin when it did?


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  • Apr 20 2013: China, I believe would have been the other possible place it may have been possible to occur. They created fireworks right. It would have been a matter of time before they began systematically assembling these and other goods for consumption. Hell look at that part of the world and how celebrated innovation and ingenuity is. We used to be the worlds leader in it now we industrialize knowledge and information the same way we used to with guns and ammo. Oh yeah we still do that too.
    • Apr 30 2013: It wasn't always like that. In the beginning and middle stages of the Industrial Revolution, the Chinese government shutdown any movement towards industrialization and modernization. With that being said, I doubt that China would've industrialized first if Europe hadn't. Only after a number of military defeats and humiliating treaties did they start modernizing, and they're doing a great job at it as far as I can tell.

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