publication . Article . 2010

What's special about human technology?

Robert Aunger;
Open Access
  • Published: 01 Jan 2010 Journal: Cambridge Journal of Economics, volume 34, issue 1 1, pages 115-123
Abstract
Human technology is difficult to understand because it is so complex. However, human technology evolved from the simpler technologies of other species. Comparison with these other technologies should illuminate why human technology is distinct. Some birds and primates make tools, or simple technological objects whose function is closely related to their form. Humans, on the other hand, make machines--relatively complex objects whose functionality derives from the interaction of parts with respect to one another (e.g. a bow and arrow). Making machines requires a cognitive advance called 'second-order instrumentality', or the ability to invest in the production of...
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