Civilization from scratch

This post is not about AI and not about winter. I have a few of those coming, but this one is about something different. I hope you don't mind.

A friend of mine recently gave a lot to think about by stating the following thought experiment:

Imagine you are taken back in time. To what extent would you be able to advance the civilization of the given era with all the knowledge in your head (no notebooks).

Initially the reaction is obviously that since we all live and breathe the current technical civilization, one should be able to recover almost everything right? There are some many uncertainties to which we already know the answers, so this should be much easier than to get there without such insight?

When you actually give some thought to it, you will realize that things may not be so easy. First of all, in most cases if somebody was taken back in time but left in the same place, they would end up in a middle of nowhere and would have to first survive to even get into contact with any contemporary humans. Say San Diego 300 years ago was an empty costal desert, and … Read more...