The genesis of the tech industry, and vice versa

I recently reread the Book of Genesis as part of a two-day conference with a small group of scholars. It struck me that the book is, among other things, our first look at the wonders and dangers of technology.

The stories have so much religious significance that it is easy to miss the embedded tale of technology-led economic growth, similar to what you might find in the work of Adam Smith or even Paul Romer. Adam and Eve eat of "the tree of knowledge, good and evil", and from that decision an entire series of economic forces is set in motion. Soon thereafter, Adam and Eve are tilling the soil, and in their lineage is Tubal-Cain, "who forged every tool of copper and iron". (My quotes are taken from Robert Alter's new translation of the Hebrew Bible.)

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 07, 2019, with the headline 'The genesis of the tech industry, and vice versa'. Print Edition | Subscribe