Progress is the course of the universe from nothing to now. While it can only ever move forward, the path of progress is specific to our story and the rate has been accelerating over time. This means that the rate of progress is speeding up, causing more changes to occur in a smaller amount of time.
Think about how many changes humans have made to the planet in the 30,000 years since we started making changes and then compare that to the amount of changes that have occurred within the last century alone, and then compare that with the changes of the last two decades.
As we move through the progress of our universe, adaptations often allow for further adaptations. We often say, “we stand on the shoulders of giants,” however, that phrase is incomplete. In truth, “we stand on the shoulders of giants who stood on the giants before them who stood on the giants before them….” While each of the major adaptations of progress didn’t directly cause the next, each would not be possible without the prior.
An event or adaptation that allows for a large increase of the speed of progress is called a progress boost and our story has thirteen major boosts. The first boost to progress was the formation of (1) stars, which allowed for the formation of (2) planets. The introduction of (3) water to our planet serves as another major boost.
If a planet has a specific environment, (4) life will spontaneously form and given the right scenarios, will become (5) multicellular. (6) Sex cells are able to form in multicellular organisms and allow for much greater genetic variance. When the communication cells of an organism reach the point of (7) intelligence, the organism can adapt its behavior to better survive.
(8) Tool making, and (9) agriculture were the first progress boosts that we recognize as human-made. The (10) printing press ushered in the First Information Age and allowed for a much faster spreading of ideas. (11) Industrialization and the discovery and implementation of (12) electricity continues to boost the progress. The most recent major progress boost is the invention of the (13) Internet, allowing instant connectivity between humans across the planet.
While progress will always move forward, some humans have attempted to slow it down by using the enemy of progress: tradition. Tradition is the mentality that something should be done the way it has always been done. A traditional mindset is helpful for recalling ancestors and giving thanks but it can be dangerous if it gets in the way of progress.
Tradition is doing something the same way over and over because it has always been done that way. Einstein defined insanity as “trying the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” When traditions are followed, change cannot occur. Progress only moves forward, an attempt to stop change from happening is nothing short of insane. Throughout history, there have been many who have tried to slow progress to maintain their temporary power. The lessons to learn from those individuals are all the same: progress will always win out in the end.
Understanding the accelerating manner of progress also gives hope to those seeking to change their world for the better. Right now, we are in the Second Information Age and progress is moving faster than ever before. Change that needed years or decades can now be accomplished in a matter of days or even hours. We are finally a globally interconnected species with unlimited potential, the only thing in our way is tradition.