Charles C. Mann
The Japanese drive on the left side of the road. Most streets literally do not have names.
Scientists have established huge numbers of links between particular diseases and snippets of DNA, but in the great majority of cases, this has not yet been translated into treatments that can help cure patients. These treatments will come – tomorrow, or the day after.
Historically, large-scale global trade has served two functions: 1) the exchange of goods between willing sellers and buyers described in Econ 101 textbooks; 2) as a tool of state aggrandizement, in which the private parties are stand-ins for governmental interests.
Compared with U.S. cities, Japanese cities bend over backward to help foreigners. The countryside is another matter.
Japanese maps tend to come in two varieties: small, schematic, and bewildering; and large, fantastically detailed, and bewildering.
The way I think of it, economics and ecology occupy two intellectual silos, isolated from each other. Even when they do take each other into consideration, it’s not uncommon for ecologists to spout absolute nonsense about economics, and vice versa.
Smartphones can relay patients’ data to hospital computers in a continuous stream. Doctors can alter treatment regimens remotely, instead of making patients come in for a visit.
Major power and telephone grids have long been controlled by computer networks, but now similar systems are embedded in such mundane objects as electric meters, alarm clocks, home refrigerators and thermostats, video cameras, bathroom scales, and Christmas-tree lights – all of which are, or soon will be, accessible remotely.
A whole bunch of big technological shocks occurred when Asian innovations – paper, gunpowder, the stirrup, the moldboard plow and so on – came to Europe via the Silk Road.
The embrace of a new technology by ordinary people leads inevitably to its embrace by people of malign intent.
A smartphone links patients’ bodies and doctors’ computers, which in turn are connected to the Internet, which in turn is connected to any smartphone anywhere. The new devices could put the management of an individual’s internal organs in the hands of every hacker, online scammer, and digital vandal on Earth.
A world with a sudden limit on air travel would be tremendously different from the one we live in now.
The Japanese are great at inventing complex systems of rules, and not so great at explaining those rules to foreign visitors.