I must say I have seen this TEDtalk now several times. It frames very much what concerns me about Western civilization. If we turn off these 6 killer apps one by one, Western civilization may very well go the way of the dodo. And others (eg Easterners) may morph these apps, nay hack them, into something very, very different. At 8:40 or so into the video Niall Ferguson discusses the 6 killer apps, which are self evident but framed and contextualized very nicely in this 20 minute video.
- Competition: Europe was politically fragmented, and within each monarchy or republic there were multiple competing corporate entities.
- Scientific revolution: All the major 17th-century breakthroughs in mathematics, astronomy, physics, chemistry and biology happened in Western Europe.
- Property rights and rule of law (government): This optimal system of social and political order emerged in the English-speaking world, based on property rights and the representation of property owners in elected legislatures.
- Modern medicine: All the major 19th- and 20th-century advances in health care, including the control of tropical diseases, were made by Western Europeans and North Americans.
- The consumer society: The Industrial Revolution took place where there was both a supply of productivity-enhancing technologies and a demand for more, better and cheaper goods, beginning with cotton garments.
- The work ethic: Westerners were the first people in the world to combine more extensive and intensive labor with higher savings rates, permitting sustained capital accumulation.
They seem obvious in retrospect that Western civilization leveraged these killer apps to effectively dictate to the rest of the world their terms. Notice that "democracy" and "capitalism" are not really described in any way, short of property rights. Places like China and India may very well adopt some but NOT ALL of these killer apps, and introduce some new ideas that effectively make them more competitive than Western civilization (North America and Europe). And what happens when these killer apps are hacked and the idea of "work ethic" is turned on its heads and uses child labour to power Western civilization. What happens when we stop providing modern medicine to the needy? Western civilization must continue to continue to "rev" all these killer apps to continue to compete in the 21st century. It is imperative.