The Nature of Technology

Cheryl Esposito welcomes W. Brian Arthur, PhD, an economist and thought leader in technology, the economy, and the science of complexity.

His book, The Nature of Technology: What It Is and How It Evolves provides an elegant and powerful theory of technology’s origins and evolution.

Brian says, “I began to realize that our wealth and our well-being all emerge out of technologies…More than any thing else technology creates our world…it creates our wealth, our economy, our very way of being.”

How is it we know so little about the evolution of technology, something that is creating our world? In Brian’s words “we are missing an ‘-ology’ of technology.” Why does this matter?

From The Nature of Technology:
“We place our hopes in technology. We hope in technology to make our lives better, to solve our problems, to get us out of predicaments, to provide the future we want for ourselves and our children.

Yet, as humans, we are attuned not to this thing we hope in — not to technology — but to something different. We are attuned in the deepest parts of our being to nature, to our original surroundings and our original condition as humankind. We have a familiarity with nature, a reliance on it that comes from three million years of at-homeness with it. We trust nature.

When we happen upon a technology, such as stemcell regenerative therapy, we experience hope. But we also immediately ask how natural this technology is. And so we are caught between two huge and unconscious forces: our deepest hope as humans lies in technology; but our deepest trust lies in nature. These forces are like tectonic plates grinding inexorably into each other in one long, slow collision.”

Join Cheryl Esposito and W. Brian Arthur as we explore the nature of technology and why it matters to all of us.