Technological evolution

Technological evolution is the name of a science and technology studies theory describing technology development, developed by Czech philosopher Radovan Richta.

Theory of technological evolution

According to Richta and later Bloomfield [Bloomfield, Masse. "Mankind in Transition; A View of the Distant Past, the Present and the Far Future", Masefield Books, 1993.] [Bloomfield, Masse. "The Automated Society", Masefield Books, 1995.] , technology (which Richta defines as "a material entity created by the application of mental and physical effort to nature in order to achieve some value") evolves in three stages: tools, machine, automation. This evolution, he says, follows two trends: the replacement of physical labour with more efficient mental labour, and the resulting greater degree of control over one's natural environment, including an ability to transform raw materials into ever more complex and pliable products.

Stages of technological development

The pretechnological period, in which all other animal species remain today aside from some avian and primate species was a non-rational period of the early prehistoric man.

The emergence of technology, made possible by the development of the rational faculty, paved the way for the first stage: the tool. A tool provides a mechanical advantage in accomplishing a physical task, and must be powered by human or animal effort.

Hunter-gatherers developed tools mainly for procuring food. Tools such as a container, spear, arrow, plow, or hammer that augments physical labor to more efficiently achieve his objective. Later animal-powered tools such as the plow and the horse, increased the productivity of food production about tenfold over the technology of the hunter-gatherers. Tools allow one to do things impossible to accomplish with one's body alone, such as seeing minute visual detail with a microscope, manipulating heavy objects with a pulley and cart, or carrying volumes of water in a bucket. The second technological stage was the creation of the machine. A machine (a powered machine to be more precise) is a tool that substitutes the element of human physical effort, and requires the operator only to control its function. Machines became widespread with the industrial revolution, though windmills, a type of machine, are much older.

Examples of this include cars, trains, computers, and lights. Machines allow humans totremendously exceed the limitations of their bodies. Putting a machine on the farm, a tractor, increased food productivity at least tenfold over the technology of the plow and the horse.

The third, and final stage of technological evolution is the automaton. The automaton is a machine that removes the element of human control with an automatic algorithm. Examples of machines that exhibit this characteristic are digital watches, automatic telephone switches, pacemakers, and computer programs.

It's important to understand that the three stages outline the introduction of the fundamental types of technology, and so all three continue to be widely used today. A spear, a plow, a pen, and an optical microscope are all examples of tools.

Theoretical implications

The process of technological evolution culminates with the ability to achieve all the material values technologically possible and desirable by mental effort.

An economic implication of the above idea is that intellectual labour will become increasingly more important relative to physical labour. Contracts and agreements around information will become increasingly more common at the marketplace. Expansion and creation of new kinds of institutes that works with information such as for example universities, book stores, patent-trading companies, etc. is considered an indication that a civilization is in technological evolution.

Interestingly, this highlights the importance underlining the debate over intellectual property in conjunction with decentralized distribution systems such as today's internet. Where the price of information distribution is going towards zero with ever more efficient tools to distribute information is being invented. Growing amounts of information being distributed to an increasingly larger customer base as times goes by. With growing disintermediation in said markets and growing concerns over the protection of intellectual property rights it is not clear what form markets for information will take with the evolution of the information age.

ee also

* Darwin Among the Machines (1863) (1998)
* Differential technological development
* History of technology
* Kardashev scale
* Social progress
* Sociocultural evolution
* Technological singularity
* Technology development

References


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Technological singularity — The technological singularity is a theoretical future point of unprecedented technological progress, caused in part by the ability of machines to improve themselves using artificial intelligence. [Harvtxt|Singularity Institute for Artificial… …   Wikipedia

  • Technological change — Original model of three phases of the process of Technological Change Technological change (TC) is a term that is used to describe the overall process of invention, innovation and diffusion of technology or processes[1][2]. Th …   Wikipedia

  • Evolution — This article is about evolution in biology. For other uses, see Evolution (disambiguation). For a generally accessible and less technical introduction to the topic, see Introduction to evolution. Part of a series on …   Wikipedia

  • Evolution (disambiguation) — In biology, evolution is a change in the inherited traits of a population from one generation to the next.Evolution may also refer to:Film* Evolution (film), a 2001 film by Ivan Reitman * , a 2006 filmTelevision* Evolution (TV series), a… …   Wikipedia

  • Technological determinism — is a reductionist doctrine that a society s technology determines its cultural values, social structure, or history. This is not to be confused with the inevitability thesis (Chandler), which states that once a technology is introduced into a… …   Wikipedia

  • Technological escalation — describes the fact that whenever two parties are in competition, each side tends to employ continuing technological improvements to defeat the other. Technology is defined here as a creative invention, be it an object or a method of using an… …   Wikipedia

  • Technological Somnambulism — is a concept used when talking about the philosophy of technology. The term was used by Langdon Winner in his essay Technology as forms of life . Winner puts forth the idea that we are simply in a state of sleepwalking in our mediations with… …   Wikipedia

  • Technological and industrial history of Canada — The technological and industrial history of Canada encompasses the country s development in the areas of transportation, communication, energy, materials, public works, public services (health care), domestic/consumer and defense technologies.… …   Wikipedia

  • Technological convergence — This article is about technology convergence including convergence of media technology. For consolidation of media ownership, see Concentration of media ownership. Technological convergence is the tendency for different technological systems to… …   Wikipedia

  • evolution — noun ADJECTIVE ▪ gradual, slow ▪ rapid ▪ continued, continuous, ongoing ▪ long term …   Collocations dictionary


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.