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The essence of technology

October 11, 2013

understanding innovation

If you ask people’s ideas about technology, you’ll get a mixed bag of answers. Ranging from outright fascination, through perfect indifference, to utter scepticism. Technology is understood to be somewhat related to progress, it seems to evolve over time, and it is tied to change in society as well. What you won’t get, though, is a clear expression of what technology is at its core.

What then is the definition of technology? The most complete and most convincing definition I came across so far is offered by W. Brian Arthur in The Nature of Technology: What It Is and How It Evolves. With a solid background in macro economics as well as engineering, Arthur extensively published in both fields. Affiliated with Santa Fe Institute and with Palo Alto Research Center, Arthur is one of the leading thinkers on complexity. He is thus well positioned to lay down…

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