Every historical epoch has its defining ethos in technology. For the Roman Empire, it was an extensive network of estates powered by slaves; for medieval Europe, feudalism and the church were the most important bulwarks of life on Earth. However, for the modern period, technology and the changes it brings about are the defining feature of the epoch. Technological innovation, though, is not a contemporary phenomenon. Innovation, especially in military and agricultural technology, such as the crossbow that was superior to the longbow or the heavy-wheeled plow that made cultivation of the rich, heavy, and wet soils of northern Europe possible, is a feature of history. However, technological innovations in the past were often localized, spread slowly, and took years to manifest in social change. ...

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