Therefore, mankind always sets itself only such tasks as it can solve;
since, looking at the matter more closely, wewill always find that the task
itself arises only when the material conditfons necessary for its solution
already exist or are at least in. the process. of formation.
(Marx [1859] 1970: 183)

Once upon.another time, in 1978 to be precise, the firm Kohlberg, Kravis
and Roberts (KKR), then called an investment bank, now a private equity firm, bought a manufacturing conglomerate, Houdaille, for $35 5 million dollars. This was four times more than KKR had ever bid to buy a company's stock. and manage it privately. But what made news on WaH Street was that KKR only had to put up 11300th of the total price with their own cash (Anders 1992). The remaining 99.7% was to be made up with borrowed money, either in the forni of capital from investors, or loans from banks.


KKR had done something that was noticed against the background of
the normal. Peers admired what the firm did and, soon, others emulated
it. The process is the one we introduced earlier: playing the wrong note
during a jazz performance can be a mark of genius that will inspire others onto routes never explored so far (Klemp et al. 2008). The playing may involve a few adolescent girls improvising on a digital badge game with almost no consequences for anyone but themselves (Chapter 2). Or it may involve thousands of men and women with dreams of transporting into the worlds of biology what appeared to have worked in the worlds of computing-with uncertain consequences for many besides them (Chapter 3). Or it may be other men, as we trace in this chapter, assembling shreds and patches of possibilities to make something that was soon inscribed on the history of billions around the globe.