After one of my many rants on people's love of baroque complexity, Thorne asked me to make up a list of the great simplifications that have occurred. Moments when apparently complex or even unsolvable problems became simple. He nominated as a starting point the Google search engine.

I just found the scrap of paper I wrote my list on. There are undoubtedly several big ones I missed, but here it is:

The phonetic alphabet
Hierarchical government (scale free networks?) (vs tribes)
Occam's razor
Atomic chemistry
Equivalence of mathematics, symbolic manipulation, and computation (Turing)
Self-orgainizing morphogenesis, reaction-diffusion for self-assembly (Turing also)
Game theory, economics, and evolutionary game theory (vs observational psychology)
Evolution (vs complex creation)
Unreliable networks, ethernet (vs reliable networks)
HTTP, ad-hoc document linkage (vs monolithic help systems, etc)
Cooperative filtering: google, amazon

Small world networks, flat coordination protocols, Distributed Hash-Tables (vs scale free networks)
Defeating the curse of dimensionality, statistical basis of AI
What consciousness is, group minds
Materials technology advances, self assembling materials
Unification in medicine of the treatment of disease and preventative/cosmetic medicine