Everything I have read in the past that Brian Arthur has written has always made me ask more questions than I had when I first started reading. I had seen that he had written this and it made me think of numerous other technology books that I had read such as Kevin Kelly’s What Technology Wants and Steven Johnson’s How We Got To Now. I know there are numerous others but these are the ones that came to mind.
I love the preface and the first chapter which is entitled Questions. He makes it a point for his argument that he is making it very clear on what questions about technology he is answering and how he is going about doing it. The questions that he states that he is answering in the book are as follows:
(1) Why is technology of such importance?
(2) What is technology in its nature, in its deepest essence?
(3) Where does it come from and how does it evolve?
Some of the statements in chapter one that I would like to bring to your attention are:
From page 18: “Novel technologies must somehow arise by combination of existing technologies.”
From page 20: “An invention is a ‘new combination of prior art.'”
From page 21: ” The more there is to invent with, the greater will be the number of inventions.” This explained why more ‘primitive’ societies could not invent our modern technologies; they did not possess the necessary ingredients and knowledge of how to work with them.”
From page 22: Technology builds out not just from combination of what exists already but from the constant capturing and harnessing of natural phenomena.”
And finally from page 25: “Technology, once a means of production, is becoming a chemistry.”
As you can see from these five statements there is much to explore in the reading of this book and I look very much to seeing if the author answers these questions to my understanding.