The Nature of Technology

Vai ser lançado nesta terça-feira 11/08/09 o livro “The Nature of Technology”, do Prof. W. Brian Arthur, do Santa Fe Institute nos EUA.

O Prof. Brain Arthur ficou conhecido no cenário econômico por suas teorias sobre retornos crescentes e path dependence, este último um conceito muito ligado ao seu nome (ver sua página na web:

Por suas contribuições, certamente este é um livro muito aguardado.  O que vai abaixo é uma reprodução do que está em sua página sobre o livro.




To be released August 11, 2009, by The Free Press (Simon & Schuster) in the US, and by Penguin Books in the UK.

Early blurb excerpts:

“The most important book on technology and the economy since Schumpeter. A work of deep and lasting importance.” –ERIC BEINHOCKER.  “Brian Arthur’s brilliantly original analysis of how technology develops and evolves reminds me of Euclid’s Geometry –it’s clear, simple and seemingly self-evident. Thrilling to read and rich in implications.” —   RICHARD RHODES.

From the cover flap: 

The Nature of Technology is an elegant and powerful theory of the origins and evolution of technology. It accomplishes for the progress 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. Conventional thinking ascribes the invention of technologies to “thinking outside the box,” or vaguely to genius or creativity, but Arthur shows that such explanations are inadequate. Rather, technologies are put together from pieces — themselves technologies — that already exist. Technologies therefore share common ancestries, and combine, morph, and combine again, to create further technologies. Technology evolves much as a coral reef builds itself from activities of small organisms — it creates itself from itself; and all technologies are descended from earlier technologies.   

Drawing on a wealth of examples, from historical inventions to the high-tech wonders of today, and writing in wonderfully engaging and clear prose, Arthur takes us on a mind-opening journey that will change the way we think about technology and how it structures our lives.



  • Technology and Innovation.  For the last several years I have become fascinated with technology and how it evolves. More than anything else technology creates our world. It creates our wealth, our economy, our very way of being. Yet, until now the major questions of technology have gone unanswered. Where do new technologies come from — how exactly does invention work? What constitutes innovation and how is it achieved? Why are certain regions – Cambridge, England in the 1920s and Silicon Valley today – hotbeds of innovation, while others languish? Does technology, like biological life, evolve? And how do new industries and the economy itself, emerge from technologies? These questions intrigue me, and the book I have just finished, The Nature of Technology, attempts to answer them. It argues that all technologies share certain principles; these determine the character of technology and how novel technologies come into being—and hence how innovation works
  • A More Realistic Economics.   As recent events show, we badly need to reformulate how we understand the economy. I have been involved since its early days in the science of complexity: the science of how patterns and structures self-organize, and my particular interest here has been in creating a more realistic, non-equilibrium version of economics. This type of economics assumes that the actors in the economy do not necessarily face well-defined problems or use exaggerated forms of rationality in making their decisions. And they react to the outcomes they together create. Viewed this way, we find that the economy is not in stasis, but always forming, always evolving, and always “discovering” fresh novelty. It contains pockets of indeterminacy and shows properties we associated with formal complexity
  • Increasing Returns.   I spent much of my earlier career developing a theoretical framework for economic allocation under increasing returns, in particular studying the dynamics of lock-in to one of many possible outcomes under the influence of small, random events. (Several of my papers are collected in my 1994 book Increasing Returns and Path Dependence in the Economy. ) High technology operates under increasing returns, and to the degree modern economies are shifting toward high tech, the different economics of increasing returns alters the character of competition, business culture, and appropriate government policy in these economies. 

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