The Nature of Technology: What It Is and How It Evolves

by W. Brian Arthur

Synopsis: “More than anything else technology creates our world. It creates our wealth, our economy, our very way of being,” says W. Brian Arthur. Yet despite technology’s irrefutable importance in our daily lives, until now its major questions have gone unanswered. Where do new technologies come from? What constitutes innovation, and how is it achieved? Does technology, like biological life, evolve? In this groundbreaking work, pioneering technology thinker and economist W. Brian Arthur answers these questions and more, setting forth a boldly original way of thinking about technology.

The Nature of Technology is an elegant and powerful theory of technology’s origins and evolution. Achieving for the development of technology what Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions did for scientific progress, Arthur explains how transformative new technologies arise and how innovation really works. Drawing on a wealth of examples, from historical inventions to the high-tech wonders of today, Arthur takes us on a mind-opening journey that will change the way we think about technology and how it structures our lives. The Nature of Technology is a classic for our times.

Published: August 2009 | ISBN: 9781416544067

Mini-bio: William Brian Arthur is an economist credited with influencing and describing the modern theory of increasing returns. He has lived and worked in Northern California for many years. Wikipedia

This excellent work taught me that technologies are ‘self-creating’, consisting of ‘assemblies and sub-assemblies’, meaning that new technologies almost always arise as new combinations of old technologies.  This is a great way to understand the evolution of technologies, and how for example jet aeroplanes came into existence, and helped me understand why Apple so infuriated and confused some people when it came out with the iPad at the end of a decade of tablet device failures and it turned into a raging success. – Matthew Riddle from his 10 Great Books on Technology

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