As humans collaborate with one another across space, we can also collaborate across time. An engineer building a car nowadays incorporates in his project the cognitive work done by Isaac Newton hundreds of years ago. In this way we can draw on an ever-expanding pool of knowledge.
called this phenomenon . He argues in Manhood of Humanity that humans have the unique ability to compound their knowledge generation after generation. Each generation inherits the knowledge of the previous one, adds its own and passes it on. In this sense, each generation has more sophisticated ideas to operate on than the previous one. Buckminster Fuller had a similar idea, which he simply called "know-how".