In the past you saw international and national standardization of very well-defined technologies. For example, if you were going to build nuts and bolts, what the threads look like, and you know, with the proper spacing and height and grip and so on. And so you know, this is not rocket science. It’s critically important to an engineer’s infrastructure to have standardization of these things, but it’s not as if we are trying to somehow codify the laws of physics.
One of the ways that industrial revolutions are interesting to think about is that they look differently depending on how and where you see them from. They look different whether you see them from Europe or Asia or Africa. But regardless of time or place, economists and historians generally tend to look at industrial revolutions through the lens of innovation. And in my short talk today I want to encourage a different way of thinking about this.
I applied and went over and they just talked to us a little bit. We never saw the machine or anything. So then they called us in and Herman Goldstine, who was the Army officer liaison coming in from Aberdeen, interviewed me. So Herman said to me, “What do you think of electricity?”
So I said, “Well, I had a physics course and I knew that E=IR.”
So he said, “No, I don’t mean that. I don’t care about that. Are you afraid of it?”