The Knowledge Machine
were you to be transported to some randomly chosen place and time in human history, you would likely ﬁnd yourself gathering pinhead-sized grains, hunting dangerous game with a sharpened stick, and living in a damp, unfurnished hollow. If you were very lucky, however, you might wake up in the sandals of a wealthy citizen of the Greek world around the time of Alexander the Great. From this position of privilege you could enjoy just about every cultural invention that makes life worth living today. You could delight in the poetry of Homer and Sappho, visit the theater to relish Oedipus Rex and other masterpieces of ancient drama, hire a musician to serenade your friends after dinner. You could live in cities regulated by law and a system of courts, shaped by the architects and sculptors who built some of the seven wonders of the world, and governed in accordance with political models that have lasted to this day: monarchy, oligarchy, sweet democracy. If you had the aptitude and the inclination, you could undertake advanced studies in
inclination, you coul geometry or philosophy.