Extremist discourse around the future potential of artificial intelligence illustrates an ignorance not only of its scientific bases, but more importantly of the history of human society, which has long been characterised by our innovations of intelligence prosthetics. Here I provide brief primers on the sciences of computation, cooperation, and the evolution of language. I then trace the present sustainability crises to a first inflection that looks very much like the "intelligence explosion" some anticipate as creating a coming of an AI "singularity." I situate this first inflection about 10,000 years ago with the origin of writing. Finally I discuss the potential that we can deploy the AI tools of the present era to help us negotiate a second inflection to a sustainable socio-political economy.