The View from 1907: Begging for an Update

Leo Marx, a distinguished historian of technology with no relation to Karl or the brothers as far as I know, writes the following in a 2010 article* exploring the history “technology” as a concept:

Henry Adams gives a particularly vivid, telling account of this sudden, unprecedented acceleration of the rate of change—and its consequences—in The Education of Henry Adams (which he first published privately in 1907). Here he announces the appearance of what he takes to be a uniquely empowered human being, an American “born since 1900”:

the child of incalculable coal-power, chemical power, electric power, and radiating energy, as well as new forces yet undetermined—[and who] must be a sort of God compared with any other former creation of nature. At the rate of progress since 1800, every American who lived to the year 2000 would know how to control unlimited power. He would think in complexities unimaginable to an earlier mind.

This begs to be evaluated in light of how the 20th century played out, and it also invites us to imagine an updated version for the American “born since 2000.”

Any takers?


*I can email a PDF of the article if anyone is interested.

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