Less Wrong is a community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality. Please visit our About page for more information.

Living By Your Own Strength

23 Eliezer_Yudkowsky 22 December 2008 12:37AM

Followup toTruly Part of You

"Myself, and Morisato-san... we want to live together by our own strength."

Jared Diamond once called agriculture "the worst mistake in the history of the human race".  Farmers could grow more wheat than hunter-gatherers could collect nuts, but the evidence seems pretty conclusive that agriculture traded quality of life for quantity of life.  One study showed that the farmers in an area were six inches shorter and seven years shorter-lived than their hunter-gatherer predecessors—even though the farmers were more numerous.

I don't know if I'd call agriculture a mistake.  But one should at least be aware of the downsides.  Policy debates should not appear one-sided.

In the same spirit—

Once upon a time, our hunter-gatherer ancestors strung their own bows, wove their own baskets, whittled their own flutes.

And part of our alienation from that environment of evolutionary adaptedness, is the number of tools we use that we don't understand and couldn't make for ourselves.

continue reading »