"Don't worry---we dodge the mathy stuff as it doesn't pertain much.."

Hey that's the first rule we learned as Beltway Bandits for contract pricing.. mostly true!

"Anything practical or productive you have ever thought---any creative energy---is a source of technology."

Many lifetimes ago I worked my way through a good chunk of Godel, Escher & Bach which is likely where the idea came from. The mathy stuff is my nemesis and skipping GEB calculations didn't kill the concepts. In my memory the idea was physics principles applied to human emotion with equal and opposite reaction rules.

At big street actions especially it makes me wonder if we have some neurological wifi that would stretch to fit the technology concept. With dynamic speakers you can feel the energy surge with good vibrations just as you can feel the dark vibes when a crowd becomes a mob. Any relationship to actual math is on you mate; if it has relevance you'll find it. I just marvel at the infinite complexity of the natural world and how little we humans truly understand. :~)

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Great reflection. Made me wonder how you would define "resources". Thank you for your insightful articles!

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Mmmh ... technology ... technology may have become second nature to us humans, having led us straight into the realm of our artificial third nature … but Nature herself has never completely left us to our own devices. Is there a species besides humans that has more energy available at any moment, more energy than the species' own body can harness only by means of said body? Every technology that is solely built on such un-biological energy generates problems not only for humans.

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"Technology is anything that grows resources."

Superb, Matthew.


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Bravo Matthew (despite my quibbles)! Brilliant!

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”Technology is anything that grows resources.”

Better: Technology is anything that grows physical resources without growth of human exertion (work/labo[u]r).


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“Who would invest their resources (capital) in production if the output wasn't expected to be larger than the input?!” Answer: an economic isolate or totality might. Examples: (1) Collecting firewood which I then burn to keep warm. (2) Collecting wood to maintain an existing shack. (3) An economy in which the only labour done is to maintain the quality/value/effectiveness of existing capital. In all three cases, in terms of the value of (IE derived from) the capital, total capital input is zero capital output is zero; moreover, given constant population (of both labourers and non-labourers), the labour done is motivated by the maintenance of one's quality of life resulting from it—increasing the value of one's stock of capital is not necessary as a motivator. No?

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Why do you see intentional omissions or whatever in Wikipedia's definition of technology when you quote the first sentence in a pages long article on technology? Further, why are you equivocating on the term technology? What Solow meant when he used the term technology is not what most people mean when they use the term technology. That people use words in different ways is not shocking, nor is it indicative of intentional omissions or nefarious motivations. Wikipedia is talking about a narrow understanding of the word technology. Solow was talking about technology as a catch-all term for anything that influences production that is not capital or labour. He did this out of immense humility; we had at the time very little idea of what all can influence production beyond capital and labour. Even now, we probably don't have a complete understanding of everything that effects production.

This is not indicative of nefarious intentions. It is indicative of taking bit size parts of the human conceptual landscape.

Your fundamental idea of technology is just wrong. There are plenty of things that are technology that do not increase our resources. For example, time is a finite resource. We cannot increase our time (there are only ever 24 hours in the day). Yet, something that is obviously technology, the washing machine, did not increase our time or any other resource, rather it allowed us to more efficiently use a resource we already had, namely the 24 hours in our day. There are some technologies, fracking for example, that do increase the amount of resources that we can practically use. But, in the grand scheme of things, Fracking did not increase the recourses. The gas was always there. We just could not get to it. Thus, either your "definition" is inconsistent with the laws of thermodynamics or your are using "increase resources" in an idiosyncratic way.

Being pedantic, even the Solow model does not entail that technology increases resources. Rather, Solow claimed that anything that increases marginal productivity will be called technology. Everything else is either capital or labour. Capital is a term that catches a lot of things you might not think are capital. In the Solow model, raw material is categorized as capital. Computers are capital. Buildings are capital. Education is capital.

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