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Milestones on the ascent to civilization include mastery of fire, sharpening and poisoning of hunting arrows; the domestication of beasts and cultivation of crops; stone, bronze, iron and steel; villages, towns, cities and nations; kings, armies, war — and onward: the motor car, the space ship, cyberspace, artificial intelligence and beyond, no one knows where.

Here and there were pockets of resistance, or non-compliance, or sloth, or simple contentment with the way things were. Nature was bountiful — why force her hand? Civilization offered much but demanded more. Was the game worth the candle? It was not, said Japan’s indigenous Ainu, among others.

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