Nautilus

Civilization Is Built on Code

Code is at once a force, or a means, of liberation and constraint.Photograph by Donnie Ray Jones / Flickr

How did we humans manage to build a global civilization on the cusp of colonizing other planets? It seems like such an unlikely outcome. After all, we were prone to cycles of war and famine for millennia, and have a meager capacity for society-wide planning and coordination—among other problems.

Maybe it’s our unique capacity for complex language and , which allow us to ; or our ability to through technology; or political and religious institutions we have created. However, perhaps the most significant answer is something else entirely: code. Humanity has survived, and thrived, by developing productive activities that evolve into regular routines and standardized platforms—which is to say we have survived, and thrived, by creating

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