Media Coverage Oct 2017
The second Renaissance
The Renaissance that began in Europe in the mid-1400s and ended in the early 1500s brought a radical transformation of the sciences, the humanities and politics. Building on the invention of the printing press and cheap paper, information was democratized, there was a hunger for literacy and the Catholic Church's near-monopoly on knowledge was challenged. The resulting breakthroughs took Europe from being one of the more backward regions of the world to being the most advanced by far, within just 80 years.
But it ended in tears. Across Europe, rising intolerance of scientists, intellectuals, foreigners and ethnic minorities became the norm, with religious wars and inquisitions playing out over the following centuries.
In this Comment piece for Nature, Ian Goldin, director of the Oxford Martin Programme on Technological and Economic Change, explains how many parts of the world are now in the middle of a second Renaissance, and describes some of the potential benefits and disruptions.