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Technological Growth as Exponential Growth, Democratic Theory as Cultural Diffusion, and Scientific Growth as Cumulation, Diffusion, and Innovation

Author(s): Christopher Portosa Stevens

I seek to evaluate popular claims that science and technology grow exponentially in democratic and non-democratic societies: This includes the capacity for science to grow exponentially and related questions of how to distinguish scientific growth from technological growth, including “Moore’s Law.” This paper seeks to place patterns of societal evolution in relation to each other, including scientific growth, technological growth, and how cultural diffusion and access to symbolic systems and media (access to Japanese or Chinese scripts, or Latin, Greek, or Arabic scripts, or GUIs) contribute to scientific growth and technological growth in democratic and non-democratic societies. The paper includes a series of provocative thought experiments that seek to show that established knowledge of physics or other branches of science do not double every fifteen years to twenty years, or 20 years to 25 years, or at some other exponential rate of growth. I seek to show that the established knowledge of textbook physics, including the classical mechanics of Galileo and Newton, does not double every fifteen years to twenty years, and that, more generally, the established knowledge of different branches of science, including discoveries or sets of ideas that are considered revolutionary in nature, from Mendeleev’s Periodic Table, to Mendel’s Theory of the Particulate Nature of Genetic Inheritance, to Watson and Crick’s discovery of the double-helical structure of the DNA, does not double every fifteen years to twenty years.
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