30 November 2009

"The Nature of Technology" by W. Brian Arthur

I recently finished reading economist W. Brian Arthur's very interesting new book, The Nature of Technology - What It Is and How It Evolves. Formerly at Stanford, Brian Arthur is now associated with the Sante Fe Institute and PARC. He is noted for his work on complexity theory and increasing returns to scale.

In the book Arthur uses a wide definition of "technology" and offers an excellent plain language explanation of its relationship with science and the economy ("The economy is an expression of its technologies."), and the process of innovation that has wide application. His writing benefits from the fact that, as well as being an economist, he trained as an electrical engineer. A particular attraction for me was his use of examples of aeronautical technology.

A review of the book appeared in the New York Times on 19 October 2009 and the American Scientist carried an interview by Greg Ross with Arthur about the ideas.

The book deserves a wider readership.

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