Watching "Arrival" finally, read the story a long time ago (and Chiang uses a lot of bullshit rhetorical tricks/fake reveals in his stories, so not my favorite).
The very 1990s looking setting and use of TV & tape recorders instead of phones is weird. I can't tell what's anachronism and what's incompetence.
"The cornerstone of civilization is language." "The cornerstone of civilization is science."
No, the cornerstone of civilization is beer and bread. We only made cities so we could harvest grain for these things.
The word for "everyone gets some by cooperating" is "reciprocity", not "non-zero-sum game". The latter still has winners and losers.
The trite Ted Chiang ending is 10x worse thru a Hollywood vaseline love scene filter.
And the giant knuckle tentacle aliens will be back in Arrival 2 vs Predator vs The Fog vs Gandalf: Smoke Ring Blowoff!
@Wintermute Secondary development. Trade in grain eventually created measurement which created math & science (literally "cutting apart", like division of profits).
...But fermentation and distillation is basic chemistry. I'm not necessarily disagreeing, just saying one followed the other is short succession.