I realize that new technologies are not “invented” out of nothing. Examples of the technologies I see are created (constructed, aggregated, integrated) from previously existing technologies. In other words, technology is composed of other technologies, and technology results from combinations of other technologies.
I gradually realized that “combination” could be the key to understanding the actual mechanism of invention and technological evolution.
I slowly realized that in addition to “combination”, there are other principles at work. Technology is made up of components and parts (integrations and sub-integrations), and the integration itself is technology. So the technology has a recursive structure.
And I realize that each technology is based on a phenomenon and some effect or effects that are excavated from the phenomenon. Therefore, technology is developed by capturing phenomena and applying them.
At the same time, I also realized that the economy is not a container of technology, as the education I have suggested, and the economy is derived from technology. The economy is generated from the productive methods, regulations and organizational arrangements that meet our needs, so the economy arises from the process of capturing and combining phenomena.
Chapter 1 Problems
Technology separates us from the Middle Ages. Indeed, technology separates us from the lifestyle we have had for 50,000 years or more. Technology has created our world incomparably, it has created our wealth, our economy, and our way of being.
Technology cycle: Technology always carries out such a cycle. In order to solve old problems, new technologies are used. New technologies cause new problems, and new problems must be solved with newer technologies.
From an era when machines strengthen nature (improving speed of movement, saving energy, and darning clothes), we have reached an era when machines are reprinting nature (genetic engineering, artificial intelligence, medical device body implantation).
Missing essential technology
We know a lot about specific technologies, but on the whole, we know very little about technology.
Technology is actually one of the most complete known parts of human experience. However, little is known about its essence, the deepest essence of its existence.
There is no complete theory on how technology is formed, no deep understanding of what innovation consists of, and no theory of technological evolution. What is missing here is a general principle, which can give the subject a logical framework, a framework that helps fill the gap.
In other words, what we are missing is a theory about technology-a “learning” about technology.
The theory about technology is missing because:
• Technology has always been in the shadow of science.
• Most of those who think hard about technology are sociologists and philosophers.
The evolution of technology
For me, how technology evolves is the core issue of technology. Why do I think so? Because without evolution and without a common sense of relevance, technology looks as if it was produced by itself and developed on its own. Any technology must come from some unexplained psychological processes, such as the so-called “creative” or “thinking outside the black box”, through which technology can be realized and developed. New technology evolves (if we can find out how it works), “born” from previous technology in some precise way, and develops through some understandable adaptation process, of course in this process The help of “mental midwives” is quite important. In other words, if we can understand evolution, we can understand that most mysterious process: innovation.
The full meaning of “evolution”: the process in which all objects of a certain type of thing are derived from the collection of its previous objects, and this process is related according to a link like “blood”.
There is a way to understand the evolution of technology, but to understand it, we need to change our minds. What we are really looking for is not how Darwin’s principle works on the fundamental novelty of generating technology, but how “heredity” works on technology. If evolution in the full sense exists in technology, then all technologies, including new ones, must be born out of previously existing technologies. In other words, they must be connected to and reproduced from some previous technology. In other words, evolution requires genetic mechanisms–some kind of connection between the present and the meticulous connection of the past. It is impossible to see this mechanism from the outside (that is, to treat technology as a black box), just as it is difficult to say how lasers are born from pre-existing technologies.
Technology inherits a part of the previous technology, so putting those technologies together (combining) will definitely have a lot of explanation about how the technology is presented. This suddenly makes the disruptive nature of radical innovation less obvious. To some extent, the technology must be a new combination of previously existing technologies.
The combination provides at least an idea for the birth of technological novelty. But this can only explain how a specific new technology is connected to the previous technology, and does not give the feeling that all technologies are built on their predecessors. Therefore, we need to add a second level of discussion. If the new technology is really a combination of previous technologies, then the reserve of existing technologies must provide the composition of the combination to some extent. In this way, the convergence of previous technologies has brought further convergence.
Combining evolution: The previous form of technology was used as a component of today’s original technology, and contemporary new technology has become a possible component of constructing newer technology. In turn, some of these technologies will continue to become possible building blocks for new technologies that have not yet been implemented. Slowly, initially very simple technologies have developed more and more technical forms, and very complex technologies often use very simple technologies as their components. The collection of all technologies has grown independently from nothing, and has grown from simple to complex. We can say that technology creates itself from itself. This mechanism is combinatorial evolution.
I refer to this mechanism as evolution that relies on the combination, or simply combinatorial evolution.
The construction of technology not only comes from the combination of existing technologies, but also from the capture and conquest of natural phenomena.
Theme of the book
I plan to start from a completely blank state and take all the relevant aspects of technology for granted. I will build this theory step by step based on three basic principles. The first is what I have already talked about: technology (all technologies) is some kind of combination. This means that any specific technology is constructed or combined from current components, integrations or system components. Second, each component of the technology is itself a microscale technology. This sounds strange, and I will modify this statement. But at present, only the meaning of using components is considered, because it has a special role in the overall technology. Components are actually technology. The third basic principle is that all technologies use or develop a certain (usually several) effect or phenomenon.
The integration or combination of technical components is for their purpose. This immanence exists in a part or subsystem that was originally technology. We have begun to see that new technologies are generated from the combination of old technologies, of course, by capturing phenomena; we will see that technological development is through transforming the inside of technology and improving their performance by achieving better replacement; we also You can see those different technologies integrate the common features of previous technologies. When you look at technology from this perspective, you find that it is similar to some kind of “genetics.”
To be sure, technology is not a biological organism; it is almost certain that these technologies are mechanical, whether they are sequencing algorithms or atomic clocks, because they are components that interact in predictable ways. But once we show the technology in a way that it is constantly combined into new combinations, we can’t think of it as just an accurate gear machine, but a combination of one set with another complicated work process. Newer technology. We see a world where a collection of technologies combines new elements from existing technologies—a new technology, which organically builds itself from within.
Modern technology is not only a collection of slightly independent production methods, but has also evolved into an open language for creating economic structures and functions. Slowly, we changed from the technology of producing fixed physical products to the technology of new purposes that can be infinitely combined and assembled.
Technology, once a means of production, is evolving into a kind of “chemistry”.
Chapter 2 Combinations and Structures
Three definitions of technology:
• Technology is a means of achieving human goals.
• Technology is the integration of practice and components.
• Technology is a collection of installations and engineering practices that are used in a culture.
• Technology is a means to an end. It is a device, a method, or a process.
• Technology provides a function. A function refers to a certain type of task that the technology performs.
The technology consists of a series of operations, which we can call “software” of technology. These operations require physical equipment to perform, which we can call the “hardware” of technology. When we emphasize “software”, we see processes and methods; when we emphasize “hardware”, we see physical devices. In fact, both aspects belong to technology, but if only one aspect is emphasized and the other is ignored, it will make them seem to belong to two categories, and this is only the result of looking at technology from different sides.
Formation of the technical structure
The most basic structure of technology, including a primary integration to perform basic functions and a set of secondary integrations that support this integration.
In reality, a jet engine is very different from a computer. One is a set of physical parts and the other is a set of logical instructions. However, their structures are the same: they are all structured by integration blocks, which are connected to each other to serve a core integration that implements a certain basic principle, supplemented by other interactive integration subsystems or components System support.
These different modules and the connections between them form a working architecture. Understanding technology means understanding its principles and how it translates them into a working framework.
Modularizing the technology’s components can better prevent unpredictable changes, while also simplifying the design process. But only when the module is repeatedly used and used a sufficient number of times is it worth the cost to divide the technology into functional units.
A few years ago, Herbert Simon told a classic parable about two watchmakers. Simon’s focus is: integrating parts can better prevent unpredictable changes, and it’s easier to fix this. We can expand it further. Modules will allow the technological components to progress separately: each component can be individually focused And improvement, and test and analyze work performance separately-each “integration” can be “quietly” detected or replaced without having to dismantle the remaining technology as a whole. And doing so also allows the technology to be reconfigured to suit different purposes. Different assemblies can be changed back and forth as needed.
Functional grouping of technologies also simplifies the design process. If designers face tens of thousands of parts, they will be submerged in a sea of trivial parts. However, if the technology can be divided into different building blocks (for example, computer computing programs, memory systems, power systems), it will be easier for designers to memorize and pay attention to them separately, and it will be easier to see how these larger parts are. Able to match each other and serve the whole together. Dividing technology into groups or modules is a bit like the concept of “chunking” in cognitive psychology. We use it to decompose complex things (for example, World War II) into higher-level parts or ensembles (fuse of war, outbreak of war, Soviet invasion, Pacific war, etc.) We can understand and use them more easily.
There is a price to pay for dividing technology into functional units, and at least some mental effort. Only when the module is repeatedly used, and the number of repeated uses is enough, is it worth the cost to split the technology. This is similar to Adam Smith’s theory of division of labor: Smith pointed out that it is only worthwhile to divide the factory’s work into professional work if the quantity produced is large enough. We can say that modularity is to the technological economy, just as the division of labor is to the manufacturing economy. The more a technology is applied, the more it is broken down, and the economy develops as a result. Or the same meaning can be expressed in Smith’s words: the decomposition of technology intensifies with market segmentation.
As functional units are used more, the way they are organized also changes. A module or integration starts to become a typical loose group consisting of a single part, which can perform some functions jointly. Later, the group solidified into a special structural unit. For example, DNA amplification (the process of copying small DNA samples into billions of samples) was initially a loose combination of laboratory techniques, and it is now embedded inside a specialized structural body. Here’s a general rule: a series of loosely strung parts at the beginning, if used enough, will “solidify” into separate units. Technology modules become standard components over time.
Recursiveness and its role
According to our combination principle, technology includes the following components: assemblies (assemblies), systems, individual parts (ie, indivisible parts). Therefore, we can conceptually decompose technology from top to bottom into different functional components (ignoring whether they are supporting or core), so as to decompose technology into main assemblies and sub-integrations ( subassemblies), sub-subassemblies, etc., until it breaks down into the most basic parts, which will give us an overall understanding of technology.