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                           Chapter 1 


                    (c) 1991 by David G. Hays
                      (c) 1995 by Janet Hays




     By tiny steps, technology has repeatedly found its way
     into new domains.  On crossing a threshold, technology
     expands with new categories of making and using things,
     and new interactions among categories.  We can see this
     history as an evolution, and ask for a scientific


     1.1.1.  History.  Who, what, where, when ...
     1.1.2.  W h y ?  Toward scientific explanation ...
     1.1.3.  Evolution.  Blind variation, selective retention ...
     1.1.4.  Four Stages, Called Ranks.  Technology linked to
             ways of thinking

     Technology ordinarily evolves by small steps, but when the
     level of thinking rises technology is reconstructed on a new
     basis.  Qualitative differences can be seen between forag-
     ers, agriculturalists, the era of smokestack industry, and
     today's most advanced technology.

1.1.1.  History 

     History and journalism have a lot in common, for they are
both narrative arts.  The reporter's checklist (who, what,
where, when) is also the historian's checklist.  Thomas A. Edison
and his crew invented the electric light bulb at Menlo Park, NJ,
in 1879.  That is history.  Many people read about history for
pleasure.  The bibliographic note ( BIBLNOTE* ) includes some
books on the history of technology, and I hope that many readers
will read one of them--or a comparable book--for pleasure.  To
appreciate the _evolution_ of technology, one needs a pretty good
idea of who invented what, and when and where--the _history_ of
     The history of technology lends itself to several
approaches.  Until recently, the standard approach was "Gee,
whiz!" or "Wow!"  Gee-whiz books are still published, often in
coffee-table format.  These books are worth skimming, spending
lots of time on the pictures.  Even better, visit a museum of
technology if you can.  The point is that much technology is
about things, and the best way to get a sense of material
culture is to handle it, or at least to see it.  Look at the
parts of things, how they are formed and joined, how they move
on each other if they do move, how their surfaces are finished. 

     Another approach to the history of technology is to deplore
its dehumanizing effects.  Lewis Mumford ( LMum* ) might be
described, not too unfairly, as having deplored the whole history
of technology in his last books, and plenty of authors have told
some part of the story in this way (among them Aron* Ellul* and 
Marcuse* ).  And we are more alert now to the dangers of technol-
ogy:  During the summer of 1989 _The New Yorker_ magazine ran a
2-part article on the apparent danger of low-level electrical
radiation.  _The New Yorker_ also published Rachel Carson's
_Silent Spring_ before the book appeared in 1962.  (See Hughes's
Chapter 9 AMERBIBL* concerning harsh critics.)

     Physics (electromagnetic radiation), chemistry (pesticides),
and biology (genetic engineering) all seem, to many around me, to
threaten our health and safety.  Or the whole history of technol-
ogy is despicably interwoven with imperialism (for example, Wall*
and Headrick* ).

     And then there are fairly scholarly books that tell the
story in an objective, detached manner (see BIBLNOTE* ).  Reading
one or more of these books will give you the facts about who,
what, when, and where.  I am not a historian, nor a journalist. 

1.1.2.  W h y ? 

     Why did Edison (and his crew of hundreds, all educated and
skillful) invent the incandescent light bulb in 1879, and not in
1779 or 879?  Why in Menlo Park, NJ, and not in Aix-en-Provence,
France, or in New Delhi, India?  Why a light bulb and not a
glovewarmer?  Why Edison and not Elmer Fudd? 

     In the nineteenth century, when history and historicism
were at their peak, there arose a belief that history has laws:
What has happened, is happening, and will happen hereafter is
determined by historical principle.  Not social, cognitive,
emotional, cultural, or political principles, but historical
principle.  The name that I attach to this belief is Hegel, and
the example that comes to mind is Marxist:  The inevitable
decline of capitalism, withering away of the state, and triumph
of communism. 
     The notion of history that allows it to have a principle of
its own is unintelligible to twentieth-century minds.  The truth
of this kind of proposition must be mystical.  Let me put the
matter another way:  I cannot understand a universe in which
history determines itself.  (For Karl Popper's magnificent
diatribe against "historicism", see PvHy* .)

     If you ask "Why?" quite seriously, you deserve to be told
how your phenomenon fits into a great structure of ideas. 
Science is by far the greatest structure of ideas in our time. 
For 200 years at least we have invested heavily in science.  By
our collective effort we have built libraries full of theories,
some of them tested with the utmost care.  These theories fit
together, sometimes snugly and sometimes crudely.  When the
question "Why?" can be answered by fitting the phenomenon into
the structure of science, we generally believe that we have a
good explanation. 
     Well, then, "Why technology?"  Is that question too big to
have an answer?  Can it conceivably have a scientific answer? 
That is to say, 

     Can we give an account of technology that fits into
     the structure of science?   

The point is not to ask whether science helps technology.  The
point, stated another way, is 

     Can we give a scientific explanation of the history
     of technology? 

Do you think that the question is foolish?  Or hopeless?  Or
even obscene?  You could be right.  All I can do at this time is
show you how work toward an answer is going.
     At the end of this book we will not have a completely
satisfying answer, but we will have earned some benefits ...

     A sense of the great changes in material culture that
     have come about in the last 6000 years. 

     A broad understanding of the inventions and innovations
     that shaped the modern world--who, what, where, and
     when--and how inventions breed inventions. 

     At least an inkling of what it is like to seek an
     explanation of an intricate phenomenon. 

     And an approximate answer to the main question, not
     complete but well worth thinking about because it puts
     history in a new perspective. 

The key idea will be evolution. 

1.1.3.  Evolution 

     Two great men of the nineteenth century, Herbert Spencer*
and Charles Darwin* (and also Wallace* ), made the idea of
evolution known to everyone.

     Spencer said that evolution is change toward differentiation
of more kinds of parts, and integration  of more kinds of parts
into individual systems.  Nicolis & Prigogine ( THEOBIBL* )
echoed him in our own time.

     Darwin said that evolution occurs by survival of the fit-
test. Two dandelions are born; one absorbs nourishment from
the soil more effectively; it has more offspring.  If you kill
most of the dandelions in the next generation, some of this
one's many offspring are more likely to survive. 
     Do not believe in teleology.  This obsolete concept, ab-
horred by most biologists, supposes that the end is determined
before the beginning. In a footrace, the finish line is painted
before the runners take their places.  They go for it.  If you
believe in teleological explanation, you may say that the human
type is the goal of biological evolution.  The race to this
goal--evolution toward us--began as soon as life appeared on
earth.  (Of course, if you adopt teleology with respect to
matters outside the range of my text, that is not my concern.)

     The advantage of Darwin's tautology, that the fittest
survive, is that it permits us to reject teleology.  We can
believe that all biological change begins with random variation,
but the disappearance of the unfit makes for improvement. 

     The trouble with evolution is that fitness is relative, and
not absolute. The more fit an animal is to live in a marsh, the
less fit to live in a dry place.  If after 50 million years the
marsh dries up, the very fit marsh-dwellers may disappear.  The
Darwinian mechanism makes no predictions; those survive who are
fit to live in the here-and-now, and if they are unfit to live in
the world of the future, that's just tough. 
     We should notice, also, that survival is a random process.
If we could take all the rabbits on Old MacDonald's farm and
rank them from left to right according to fitness, highest on the
right, we could not separate them into a right-hand group of
survivors and a left-hand group of nonsurvivors.  All we could
say is this:  The further to the right, the better the chance of
survival.  Even the most fit can die by accident without
progeny.  Even the least fit can sometimes slip through all of
life's troubles. 

     Spencer was a philosopher and a social scientist. He was
interested in biology, but also in society and culture.  He
applied his concept of evolution to history, and so shall I.  In
the nineteenth century, Victorian England believed that it stood
at the pinnacle of history, the goal toward which evolution had
been moving.  The ideas of Darwin and Spencer were tainted with
racism.  For us, racism is unacceptable.  We can study a
non-racist theory of evolution, but for that we need better
theories of culture and learning than could be found in
Victorian England. 
     The technological system of Victorian England was more
highly differentiated and integrated than that of any
non-literate group.  In this sense, the Spencerian sense, it was
more highly evolved.  How could that be? 

     (a) The brains of Victorian Englishmen were more
         powerful than the brains of persons in nonliterate
         groups--bigger, say, or biologically more potent

     (b) The Victorian English taught (some of) their
         children how to learn better than any nonliterate
         group could teach its children.  By learning to learn,
         these (few) Englishmen were able to invent, organize,
         and manage a more evolved system. 

Explanation (a), which might be true, is racist.  Nineteenth-
century Englishmen had no real evidence to support this explana-
tion, and neither do we.  Explanation (b), which might be true
whether (a) is true or false, is not racist.

I repeat: 

     Explanation (b) is not racist ... nor sexist, nor ... 

Because, starting young enough, anyone can learn to learn.  But
unfortunately the Victorian English were not able to formulate
explanation (b).  The concept of learning to learn had not been
invented.  Explanation (a) was accepted, not because of the
evidence, but because of the lack of an alternative.  And also,
of course, if you are insecure and plagued by self-doubt,
explanation (a) is comforting.  I feel pretty sure that many of
the chauvinist English Victorians were insecure. 

     Technology has evolved.  The technology of the modern world
is more differentiated and integrated than the technologies of
the past.  In other words, we in Europe, America, and Japan
apply more diverse and specialized skills in dealing with nature
than any of our ancestors ever did.  And we link our skills and
the products of our skills together into larger systems, with
more parts and more kinds of parts, than ever before. 
     That is the fact.  The fact that technology has evolved
cannot be changed by saying "Wow!" or "How terrible!" or "Don't
cultures with simple technologies have a lot to offer?"  If you
feel like saying "Wow!" as you read of the accomplishments of
past inventors, you will certainly do so.  And if you feel like
deploring technology, or deploring the evolution of technology,
you will.  No harm done.  Only I ask you to remember that this
book is trying to answer the question, "How and why does
technology evolve?"  Praise and blame are not part of an

1.1.4.  Four Stages, Called Ranks 

    When William L. Benzon was a student at SUNY Buffalo, he
showed me a book called _The Four Ages of Music_, by Walter
Wiora* .  Wiora had studied reports of musical forms in many
cultures and inferred from these contemporary observations a
historical progression; the same method is used by some anthro-
pologists, although others object to such inference* .

     Wiora's four ages were the ages of rhythm, melody, harmony,
and modern eclecticism.
Boiled down, Wiora's scheme went like this:

     1. Rhythm.  For a long time, music was almost entirely a
matter of rhythmic chanting, beating of drums, and the like. 
Different tones might be used, but not in any regular way.

     2. Melody.  Then for a time the dominant patterns in music
consisted of sequences of notes chosen to have an effect as a

     3. Harmony.  Not so long ago, new patterns appeared.  The
notes played simultaneously were chosen to have a special effect.
Music became two-dimensional, a sequence of combinations. 

     4.  Now, says Wiora, anything goes. Eclecticism, mixing
effects from all times and places, is the new idea in music. 
Benzon suggests that a new pattern is coming to dominate music,
a pattern that he calls "texture".  But Benzon cannot quite tell
me what texture is (see BMusic* for his newest ideas).
     Benzon showed me Wiora's book, and said, "Isn't everything
like that?"  So in our Buffalo seminars we began working on the
history of thought as a four-stage affair.  We needed a special
word and chose "rank" (rank is not exactly the same as stage* ).

     Then a young person I know took a high school course called
"Athens and Florence".  It covered the Golden Age of Greece and
the Renaissance.  How neat, I thought, and added a couple of
cities to the list: 

     Eden       The Rank 1 non-city
     Athens     The Rank 2 city where philosophy began
     Florence   The Rank 3 city where modern thought--and     
                           especially science--originated
     New York   The Rank 4 city 

You can see that I am not quite serious; Eden is just a familiar
word for a place without large population, without writing,
without technology of any complicated kind.  And New York is not
the center of what has been happening lately in the same way that
Athens and Florence were centers in their different periods.
However, not all of Greek thought issued from Athens, and the
whole Renaissance did not happen in Florence. 

     Then, with tongue in cheek but with a serious thought in my
head, I expanded the list: 

                    Eden - Rank 1 - Babylon
                  Athens - Rank 2 - Rome
                Florence - Rank 3 - London
                New York - Rank 4 - Tokyo 

If the fact that London, New York, and Tokyo lie within nations,
whereas the earlier places do not, see CITYSTATE* .  Otherwise,
let us look for a moment at each pair. 

                    Eden - Rank 1 - Babylon

     Think of Eden as a place where food-getting is almost the
only skill applied in dealing with the material world, where
food grows naturally and the skill is to be in the right place at
the right time to gather it.  Allow a little hunting, to bring in
meat as a special treat.  How is Babylon different?  Farming has
come in, and provides enough food for a concentrated population.
A fair number of craft specialties have arisen:  building houses,
making pots and some tools, making clothing and other things.  
But Babylon is overgrown, too large for its technological base. 

                  Athens - Rank 2 - Rome

     Think of Athens as the original exploiter of writing.  No,
of course writing did not originate in Greece, and long before
Greece's Golden Age (5th century BC) writing was used for laws
both secular and religious.  Still it seems fair to me to think
of Athens as the place where writing was put to its natural use:
Clarifying thought.  The philosophy of Athens was the beginning
of rational discourse, and it required writing.  Was the technol-
ogy of Athens advanced beyond that of Babylon?  Somewhat, yes;
they replaced bronze largely with iron.   Rome, the successor of
Athens, rose with the elaboration of technology throughout the
Mediterranean basin.  The advance was multifarious.  But Rome
ended up overgrown, the city and its empire both too large for
their infrastructure.
                Florence - Rank 3 - London

     Think of Florence as the original exploiter of calculation.
That is  probably not what you have been told about the
Renaissance by others; indeed, it may be my own original idea. 
Arithmetic had reached Europe--a convenient way of writing
numbers and calculating with them.  Business became easier to
manage, and science got started a little later.  Military
technology advanced, and--to furnish the precision needed for
astrology--so did instrumentation.  London, the successor of
Florence, was late in its Renaissance, but when it got going it
produced the Industrial Revolution and an empire on which the
sun never set.  Overgrown again. 
                New York - Rank 4 - Tokyo 

     Think of New York as the original exploiter of computation.
The computer was invented in the periphery where New York keeps
its  intellectual  support  (Boston,  Ithaca,  Princeton,
Philadelphia) by John von Neumann, who took part in sessions at
the University of Pennsylvania and went home to the Institute
for Advanced Study to write down the complete scheme that was
needed to go forward from high-speed arithmetic machines to
universal computers of the kind that we are using here and now.
Between 1800 and today, a lot of technological progress has
originated in New York and its hinterland.  Tokyo, the possible
successor of New York, is said to think of California's silicon
valley as its easternmost suburb.  If Japan is not overgrown yet,
it looks to be going that way. 
     The inhabitants of Eden, unlike their animal predecessors,
had speech.  So we can see an informatic novelty at each of the
four ranks: 

                     Rank 1  Speech
                     Rank 2  Writing
                     Rank 3  Calculation
                     Rank 4  Computation

Chapter 4 is about this sequence.

     But as we shall see, life is not so simple.  Nowhere, never
except at the beginning is all of life confined to a single rank. 
Mixture is the rule as soon as any advance occurs.  Some authors
take mixture as a reason to deny rank:

     We have used the word "levels" rather than "stages"
     quite consciously; a great deal of blending of the
     levels and of persistence and resistance has happened,
     and a stadial type of sequence was not their inevitable
     arrangement.  (Braidwood & Reed, 29-30)

     "it is in the nature of evolution that our examples are
     all in transition."  (Eric B. Ross, reviewing Johnson &
     Earle, p. 819)

(References in  AGRIBIBL* .)  Old ways persist, new ways are
resisted, and many lives are lived in transitions.  Yet a new
rank, once established, is felt in the lives of all who have even
remote contact with it.  Rankshift is a major phenomenon.


     1.2.1.  Aspects of Technology.  Materials, tools,
             skills ... categories of use
     1.2.2.  The Simple Life.  Foraging ...
     1.2.3.  Ten Thousand Peasants per Prince.  Agriculture,
             pottery, and temples ...
     1.2.4.  Something for Everyone.  Coal, textiles, and
             education ...
     1.2.5.  Everything, Now.  Electronics, global trade

     Qualitative change across the ranks appears in tables that
     show the contributions of technological sectors to end uses
     and to each other.  The number of sectors increases, and the
     interdependence of the sectors grows.

     To read the rest of this diskbook, you need to know what
technology is in a very general sense, and you also need a crude
notion of what the technologies of the four ranks are like.  In
this section I explain my general idea, then I offer lists of
categories of needs and of means for supplying them.  From the
list of different means ("industrial sectors") I can build a
simplified version of Leontieff's input-output matrices:  Give
each industrial sector a row, and each end use a column, and see
what is going on in each cell.  With that tool I can go through
the four ranks laying out sketches of their technological econo-

1.2.1.  Aspects of Technology 

     I'll tell you now what I think technology is:  know-how. 
(See TIMA* for a similar definition.)

     Know-how, and specifically with respect to the material
world.  You can expand the meaning of technology to cover, say,
the skills of making and running organizations.  But if you do
you run the risk of losing the essence of the idea.  Producing
plastics requires different skills from making stone tools, but
I think there is more in common between these two kinds of
technology than between either and the skills of management. 

     If you think that technology is shoes and ships and sealing
wax--and the  tools for making them--you are close to my
position.  But if all the shoes and shoe-making machinery
disappeared tonight and had to be remade starting tomorrow, I
would say that we had not lost the technology if we were still
able to remake them.  If we lived among shoes and shoe-making
machinery with no knowledge of their use, then I would say that
we did not have the technology.  Before the Renaissance,
Europeans lived among the ruins of Roman aqueducts and used the
stones to build huts. 

     We need to distinguish between being able to make shoes and
being able to tell how to make shoes.  The implicit skill, which
I call lore, gets the shoes made.  How-to-do-it books (explicit
statements about the skill) have been around since ancient Rome
at least; the impulse to tell how is strong.  We might narrow the
concept of technology, saying that it is the explicit knowledge
that we have of how to do things.  If we do, however, then Eden
had no technology, at least during that early period when
sapients* were learning to talk, to think, and to use tools to
make tools.

     My dictionary  suggests that the word is used in different
senses by different groups.  Anthropologists would use it as in
my original statement, know-how with respect to the material
world.  And some would say that technology did not appear on
earth until science was brought to bear.  We will probably have
to slide up and down this scale of restriction. 
     Wheels, weapons, and wires stand for three branches of
technology:  transport, warfare, and communication.  Three more
branches are mining, agriculture, and manufacture.  If we look
through history we see the number of branches growing moderately
up to around 1900, and then exploding.  Three new ones are
biotechnology, satellite observation, and chip-level photocommun-

     Many other authors have classified technologies.

     A how-to-do-it book written in China in 1637, _T'ien-kung
K'ai-wu_, by Sung Ying-Hsing (and translated in the 20th century
by E-Tu Zen Sun and Shiou-Chan Sun) did not by any means cover
the technology of its time.  Sung has no chapters on the
building of roads and canals, or the making of clothing.  But his
list of topics suggests what a range of skills a rank 2 culture
can possess.  (To see the table of contents: Sung* )
     George P. Murdock, for  many  years a professor of
anthropology at Yale University and later at the University of
Pittsburgh, wrote with collaborators an _Outline of Culture
Materials_.  At a broad level it is sufficient for a culture of
any rank up to our own.  In his _Ethnographic Atlas_, which is a
list of societies ranging from Eden to Rome (and a few beyond),
Murdock identifies some elements of technology that are found in
many but not all places.  Looking at his schemes, you would
probably get a sufficiently clear idea of the range of skills
that I expect to examine in this book.  (To see a long list from
Murdock's _Outline_: OCM* )

     Bibliographies (for example, Oleson* ) may also classify
their entries according to branch of technology.

     The biologist Bernard Campbell* proposes an evolutionary

     After examining these sources, and the contents of some
histories of technology, I am ready to suggest my own framework.
On the one hand, there are _industrial sectors_ that have
separated themselves according to the materials, machines, and
skills that they involve.  This is my list, in approximate
chronological order of origin: 

     Agriculture, including foraging
     Food conversion (cooking, drying, etc.)
     Textiles, including leather and paper
     Wood fabrication
     Mining and quarrying
     Metal refining and fabrication
     Stone fabrication
     Power and light
On the other side, there are _end uses_ of goods, which separate
themselves according to the needs they meet and the
circumstances in which they operate: 

    Domestic:  Food, clothing, shelter, furniture, warmth, light
    Security:  Government, warfare, police
    Spiritual:  Magic, religion, art, psychotherapy; drugs
    Health:  Cleanliness, medicine
    Travel and communication
    Knowledge:  Education, research, and development
    Capital:  Land, factories, machines and tools, organization

In between, there is 

     Trade:  Distribution and marketing 

a sphere that belongs neither to production nor to consumption--
as Braudel pointed out ( FBCC* ).

1.2.2.  The Simple Life 
     In rank 1, the world is simple. 
                    Domestic  Spiritual  Health 

     Agriculture    Foraging  Offerings  Herbs and roots 

     conversion     Roasting  Drugs      Potions

This matrix shows life at the basal level;  there are, and have
been, many people with technologically more complex lives but no
writing.  We will expand the theory to give them a place in due
course.  A few people still live the life of rank 1 at the end of
the twentieth century, deep in the Amazon or a desert in Africa
or Australia.  The Eskimos who lived such lives not long ago are
now educated and supplied with snowmobiles (Pelto) and gasoline
by the governments of the United States and Canada, as I once saw
with my own eyes.  (For a survey of contemporary rank 1, see
Bicchieri or the lighter Cheneviere; references in FORGBIBL* .)

     With a few tools and weapons made of stone or bone, rank 1
people live off the land.  They have fire to cook their meat,
and perhaps clothe themselves with hides.  They have no pots.
Their shelters, if any, are simple ones. 

     The security arrangements are very simple, and use the same
tools or weapons that serve for foraging.  The making of tools is
both significant and simple, so simple that I have not inserted a
row for it.  Each family does its own work and consumes its own
product.  The rows and columns of this table do not represent
units of organization; these people do not have anything like a
health maintenance organization or a central cooking staff. 

1.2.3.  Ten Thousand Peasants per Prince 

     In rank 2, most of the population lives on the land as
peasants* .  They do not exchange much of what they produce, but
they are required to support the small part of the population
that lives in fortified places, or in villages and towns, where
specialists make goods of kinds that rank 1 does not imagine.

     Still, the table is not an organization chart, although rank
2 does have organizations.  A rank 2 government can provide its
own ships for invasions and colonizations, and if it does then
that activity is in the transport sector.  (Every society with
agriculture gets food from agriculture; but not every agricultur-
al society has horses to use in warfare.  So the table lists
possibilities that become realities in some places at some

RANK 2          Domestic  Security  Spiritual  Health    Trade 
    Agriculture Food and  Cavalry   Offerings  Herbs and
                fuel                           roots 
    Ceramics    Pots                Statues
    Food con-   Grinding                       Teas
    version     Cooking 
    Textiles    Clothing
    Woodwork    Furni-    Forts     Churches
    Metals      Knives    Weapons   Statues &
                Pipes               coffers
    Stonework   Aqueducts Forts     Temples    Baths
    Transport   Grain     Invasion,            To spas   Shipping
    Chemicals   Salt      Greek     Incense    Soap
                Perfume   fire

Houses are of brick (ceramics), wood, or stone, and cement may
be available although I have not put it in the table.  The mining
sector provides rank 2 with metals, but it is not yet providing
fuel; you may move salt from the chemical row to a mining row if
you like.   The  difference between  cooking and chemical
technology is not very great, but specialists make dyes and
perfumes.  The transport sector is not developed for personal
travel, but commerce is developed:  Athens and Rome required
considerable imports of grain.  I chose the word "church" for a
building for spiritual use made of wood, and the word "temple"
for one made of stone, simply because I have different images of
them; but they are conceptually about the same.

     I have omitted the contributions of the industrial sectors
to knowledge.  All that I would need to insert would be paper (or
the functional equivalent) and ink, since Athens put nothing much
more into discovery and dissemination. 

     In rank 2 it is worthwhile to see flows between industrial
sectors.  For that we need a matrix with both a row and a column
for each sector.  Read across each row to see what one sector
provides to each of the others.  (Not every transaction occurs in
every place at rank 2.)


AGRIC    Seed Wood All  Flax Wood Wood Wood      Hors Wood
                        Wool                     Ox 
CERAM                   Pots                     Brick
TEXTILE  Basket                                  Sail
WOOD     Plow Wheel     Loom                     Cart
MINING   Lime Clay                     Ore  Stone 
METAL    Knife          Need Saw  Pick Anvl Chisel 
STONE                                            Road 
CHEM               Salt Dye

But in fact, there is relatively little circulation of goods
among the sectors here.  Agriculture and mining are the source of
materials and fuel for the others, but only a few wooden and
metal tools are used and complex mixtures of raw materials do not
occur.  The textile sector provides nets for fishing and sails
for boats.  Transport is too expensive to serve much.  I have noted
the existence of stone-surfaced roads, although there are not many
of them at rank 2. 

     In much of the world, technology remains near the level of
rank 2.  Those countries with per capita income below $5000--
there were 96 of them in the late 1980s, and only 33 with more--
or with Human Development Index below 0.5--they numbered 51, as
against 86 above--or with enrollment of children ages 6 to 11 in
school below 20%--there were 67 of them, and 70 above (but many
wealthy ones are not in the source table)--could not maintain
technology far above rank 2.  These are the countries that were
once called undeveloped, then said to be developing; the label
'Third World' has been used.  (For sources see HDI* )

1.2.4.  Something for Everyone 

     Rank 3 is a more familiar world, the world of Victorian
England for example, or of the Soviet Union from the 1930s
through the 1980s.  (The chart is on the next screen.)

     Brick is a favorite building material, because wood is
scarce and stonework takes too much labor (rank 2 burned the
trees, or used them for ships and windmills, and rank 3 needs its
workers in factories).  Coal is the favorite fuel, and from it
gas is extracted and pumped into houses and factories. Iron is
the favorite material for all mechanisms and many structures: 
Bridges in particular and also some buildings, providing both
frames and facades.  Care for the sick is much developed,
although medical care is not very effective in curing them.

     The production and dissemination of knowledge is taken very
seriously in rank 3; buildings and equipment are provided, and a
portion of every lifetime is allocated.  Capital formation is a
major end use. 
RANK 3    Domest  Secur  Health  Trade  Know    Capital 

Agricult  Food           Medication 
Ceramics  Dishes         Sinks          Windows Factory
          Windows                Ware-          buildings
          Houses                 house
          Chimney                Store 
Food conv Grind'g Rations
Textiles  Clothing                      Paper
Woodwork  Furniture
Mining    Coal    Coal           Coal           Cement 
Metalwork Pots    Guns   Utensils       Instru- Machines
          Cutlery                       ments   Building
          Stoves                                frames 
Stonework Houses  Forts  Hospital       College 
Transport Trips   Troop          Import-
                  movement       export
Chemicals Salt    Powder Medica-
          Bleach  Gas    tion
Power     Gas for
          light &
     In rank 3, inter-industry flows are richer than before. 

     The old industries have not found many new industrial
customers, but metallurgy has advanced and many industries use
not only tools but also machines of iron and a few other metals. 
Power is furnished to every sector by the burning of coal to
produce heat for processes and steam to drive machines; beyond
that, this sector is limited to production of coal gas.  A simple
internal-combustion engine that burned coal gas was used as a
power source in Britain at the end of the nineteenth century. 
Transport of supplies and products is being used in every sector.
RANK 3 Agric Ceram Food  Text  Wood  Mine Metal Stone Trans Chem
Agric  Seed  Wood  All   Flax  Wood  Wood
Ceram              Pots                   Brick             Pots
Food   Feed
Tex-   Basket      Paper       Uphol                        Fil-
tiles  Netting                 stery                        ter
Wood   Plow  Wheel                                    Cart
Mining Lime  Clay                         Ore   Stone       Lime
       Ferti-                                               Sul-
       lizer                                                fur
Metal  Har-        Can   Loom  Saw   Pick Anvil Chisl Train Vat
       vester      Etc.  Etc.  Etc.  Etc. Etc.  Etc.  Rails
Stone                                                 Roads 
Transp X     X     X     X     X          X                 X 
Chem   Ferti Glaze       Many  Paint Pow- Acid
       lizer                         der 
Power  X     X     X     X     X     X    X     X     X     X

1.2.5.  Everything, Now 

     And finally, rank 4 is almost visible in the near future. 
The matrix in the next screen incorporates all of the advances
between the ideal-typical rank 3 situation of late Victorian
England and the present in highly industrialized countries, and
includes a few items that rank 4 may bring--or may not. 
RANK 4    Domest   Secur    Health   Trade     Know    Capital 

Agricult  Food              Medica-  Biomass
                            tion     fuel 
Ceramics  Dishes            Sinks    Windows  Vessels  Factory
          Windows                    Ware-    Shields  buildings
          Houses                     house
          Chimney                    Store
Food conv Grind'g  Rations  Anti-
          Canning           biotics
          Salting           Hormones
Textiles  Clothing                            Paper
Woodwork  Furniture
Mining    Coal     Coal              Coal            Gas 
RANK 4    Domest   Secur    Health   Trade     Know    Capital
Metalwork Pots     Guns     Utensils Trucks   Instru-  Machines
          Cutlery  Vehicles          Trains   ments      Building
          Stoves   Aircraft          Rails             frames
          Appli-   Missiles          Ships
          ances                      Airplane 
Stonework Houses            Hospital Roads    College 
Transport Trips    Troop    Ambu-    Import-  Exchange
          Tele-    movement lance    export
          phone    Logistics
Chemicals Salt     Powder   Medica-  Petrol
          Bleach   Gas      tion
          Dye      Petrol   Anes-
          Leaven            thetic
Power     Electri-          Electri- Electri-
          city for          city     city
          heating                                          (MORE)

RANK 4    Domest   Secur    Health   Trade     Know    Capital 
Electron  Controls Radio    X-ray    Controls Computer Computer
          Alarms   Radar    CAT scan Phone
                   Control  EKG      Radio
                   Robots   EEG      TV
                            Laser    Stereo

     Rank 4's internal flows are very rich.
RANK 4 Agric Ceram Food  Text  Wood Mine  Metal Stone Trans Chem
Agric  Seed  Wood  All   Flax  Wood Wood
Ceram              Pots                   Brick             Pots
Food   Feed
conv   Etc. 
Tex-   Basket      Paper       Uphol-                       Fil-
tiles  Netting                 stery                        ter
Wood   Plow  Wheel 
Mining Lime  Clay                          Ore   Stone      Lime
       Ferti-                                               Sul-
       lizer                                                fur
Metal  Many  Many  Many  Many  Many Many  Many  Many  Many  Many
Transp X     X     X     X     X          X           X     X 
Chem   Many  Glaze Films Many  Paint Pow- Acid
                         Rayon Panel der
Power  X     X     X     X     X     X    X     X     X     X
Elec-  Some  Therm Many  Many  Some  Some Many  ?     Many  Many

By now, the only productive sectors that do not obtain raw
materials or fuel at a distance are mining and stone working. 
And even these two are not wholly independent of transportation;
mining may buy energy from a distant source, and some stone work
is done near the market with raw stone imported from a quarry.
The power sector, too, has extended its services to all; everyone
buys at least a portion of the necessary power as electricity.
And we see electronics reaching into most sectors.  Farmers may
not make heavy use of computers and automatic controls as yet,
but metal refining and fabrication is proceeding toward full
automation with robots linked to computer-aided design and
management systems.  In transportation, radar and automatic
pilots are essential to the current traffic in many places.  The
plastics industry (chemicals) provides materials for all sorts of
products.  We might ask, finally, if it is not time to introduce
a sector for biotechnology; but I took some note of its existence
by writing 'many' uses of chemistry in agriculture. 

     Since these matrices are not organization charts, the fact
that food conversion has moved more and more from home to restau-
rant to frozen-food plant does not show up. 


     1.3.1.  The Mystery of Change.  Distress ... clusters ... 
             a paradigm needed
     1.3.2.  Knowledge before Evaluation.  What is
             progress? ... Does study signify approval?
     1.3.3.  The Uncertain Future.  The ranks ahead ...

     Change, accelerating through history, is the most obvious
     characteristic of technology, but nevertheless mysterious. 
     As technology changes, it contributes to human welfare but
     does harm as well, and the balance is hard to assess. 
     Learning what we can about technological change, its causes
     and occasions as well as its nature and effects, will
     support honest assessment and help us in the impossible task
     of predicting the technology of the future.

1.3.1.  The Mystery of Change 

     As you read the details of the history of technology, you
will see that change occurs mostly in very small steps.  And you
will perhaps notice that changes are often upsetting.  Skills are
important to people; we think of ourselves in terms of what we
can do, and we apply our skills constantly in making a living and
getting through life.  Technological change means giving up old
skills and getting new ones (for some contemporary examples, see
Zuboff* ).  We read almost every day in newspapers and magazines
about the troubles that beset towns where old skills are no
longer useful, steel mill towns for example, about unemployment
accompanied by lack of workers with the new skills that are
needed; Paul Kennedy ( PREP21* ) writes in several places about
this problem.

     Why, then, does change occur?  A mystery. 
     You will also see that changes occur in many times and
places, but much more often in a few places during short periods.
Historians have given names to several clusters of change:  The
agricultural revolution, the urban revolution, the Golden Age of
Greece, the Renaissance, the Industrial Revolution, the computer
revolution.  (We will give attention to each of these clusters of
change as we continue.)

     Why should changes be clustered?  Another mystery. 

     Mysteries are unfathomable.  Mysteries are romantic. 
Science is simple-minded, straightforward, pedestrian.  Science
has no truck with mysteries.  Unless we can convert the mysteries
of technological change into problems, science will give us no
     To convert a mystery into a problem, we have to formulate a
paradigm.  You will find a long discussion of paradigms in Thomas
Kuhn's _The Structure of Scientific Revolutions_ ( PRDGMBIBL* ).
I think that we need a scientific revolution to create a science
of evolution of technology.  But I think that a revolution of the
kind we need has begun.  We can join it ... and it's easier to
join one than to start one.  In Chapter Two--Ranks, Revolutions,
and Paideias--I will tell you some things about ranks and
rankshift, about scientific and technological revolutions, and
about different ways of thinking that enable thinkers to make
quite different kinds of inventions.

1.3.2.  Knowledge before Evaluation 

     Should we call the changes in technology from the beginning
until now "progress"?  My old _American Heritage Dictionary_ says
that progress is 

     1.  Movement toward a goal
     2.  Development; unfolding
     3.  Steady improvement, as of a society or civilization 

Number 1 is the teleological view, and we are not adopting that
view.  Number 2 is very much like a definition of evolution, but
it gives an old view, suggesting that the end is concealed in the
beginning--not far enough from teleology to suit me.  Number 3 is
the one we will have in mind if we decide that change in technol-
ogy constitutes progress.  The unacceptable element in 3 is the
word "steady". 
     The changes in human affairs, including technology, have
been very _un_steady.  We have had ups and downs.  Life in Europe
after the fall of the Roman Empire was much like life at an
earlier time, simple and--as I see it--not good.  Life in the
United States today seems to me not truly improved over life in
1955.  Even recent technological change may have taken us into
blind alleys that we have to back out of carefully lest we mess
up the world in very dreadful ways. 

     An anthropologist I know wrote a book about the death
penalty ( UCSn* ).  In it he says that he found few publications
by anthropologists on this topic, and that when he talked with
others about his work they felt that he must approve of execu-
tions if he was studying them.  He claimed that he was making an
objective study, and perhaps he was; I cannot tell you whether he
approves of the death penalty, but he wrote an informative book. 

     Can we study the evolution of technology without approving
of technological change, without  believing that technology
contributes to the steady or unsteady improvement of society and
civilization?  According to my principles, we can and we must. 
To approve or disapprove without knowledge is prejudice.
If we see technology destroying something we love ... 

     Technological change causes some of our friends to
     lose their jobs and have trouble finding new ones ... 

     The use of plastics is filling much too much of the
     earth's surface with garbage* dumps ... 

     Nuclear power threatens us with planet-destroying war,
     causes radiation sickness in its workers and neighbors,
     and leaves waste that we cannot handle ... 

     Demand for wood and pulp or for agricultural land leads
     to the destruction of forests today, as the demand for
     fuel for iron smelting led to the destruction of forests
     in England long ago ... 

... we may condemn technological change out of hand.
But perhaps we look instead at some benefits ... 

     Easier travel and communication ... 

     Longer life and better health ... 

     Avoidance of famine in many areas ... 

... and praise technological change without thinking of the bad

          The riches of the post-industrial society have meant
     longer and healthier lives, liberation from the pains of
     hunger, from the fears of infant mortality, from the unre-
     lenting deprivation that were the part of all but a very few
     in preindustrial society.  ( Mokyr, p. 303 BIBLNOTE* )

Mokyr, I hasten to add, is not naive.
     Before deciding whether on balance the net effect of
technological change is progress, a reasonable person will try
to appreciate it for what it is.  An appreciation of technology
and its evolution includes 

     Knowing who, what, when, and where ... the history 

     Knowing as well as possible also how and why ... the

     Knowing the consequences of technological change, in
     terms of as many relevant variables as can be imagined
     ... the evaluation

... remembering always that natural selection is blind to long-
term effects, and so are we.  Lynn T. White, Jr. ( MRTe* )
suggested that the invention of knitting enabled mothers to keep
their little children warm, preventing disease and reducing
mortality.  The inventor of knitting probably did not anticipate
that result, and we must not suppose that we can do very much
     With knowledge, we can do better than praise or condemn. 
We can  sort out good and bad aspects and components of
technology, according to our best understanding, and work for
technological change that enhances the good aspects and
diminishes the bad.  We can strive for the adoption of
appropriate technology.

     If, when the book is over, you wish to assert that the
whole history of technology is one long blind alley, and that
the best hope for the future is to begin again without tools or
skills and look for a new route, you are free to do so. 

1.3.3.  The Uncertain Future 

     I believe that our species has lived in three successive
ranks, and that a fourth rank is becoming visible around us.
How could I doubt that a fifth rank will follow?  And perhaps
still more. 

     As you will see in the next chapter, I believe that
thinking changes from rank to rank, in such a way that persons
who grow up in any rank are incapable of understanding the later
ranks.  Remember, this is the problem of learning to learn.  A
person who grew up in a nonliterate society would have a hard
time studying the philosophies that followed Socrates, Plato,
and Aristotle.  Maybe remedial work would solve the problem, but
maybe not, and that's not my point anyhow. 

     My point is that, if I am right, we would have a hard time
studying the best work of the 21st century.  The best thinkers
of the future are going to have thoughts that would not fit
easily into our minds. 

     So the future of technology seems to me to be beyond 
our grasp.  We do our best today, and if it is good enough 
it lays the foundation for better work in the future.  If we 
do our work badly, tomorrow may never come.  If we hone 
our skills and sharpen our consciences, we may do good 
enough work so that our children can create for themselves a 
brighter future.

[Mind-Culture Coevolution Home] [Tech Evol Contents]
[2 Ranks] [3 Energetics] [4 Informatics]
[5 Politics] [6 Investment] [7 Appropriate] [8 Best They Could]
[Bibliography] [Figures] [Notes]