Comparison of Three Perspectives on the Evolution of Technology Essay

Comparison of Three Perspectives on the Evolution of Technology, Different authors view evolution of technology in varying perspectives which result and impact to certain aspect. Although the views vary from one another, there has existed some common features, components and occurrences in technology that appear similar. In most of the theories developed to explain technological evolution, there exists human intervention to satisfy particular needs. “Innovation is the rate limiting step, but when innovations do occur they are accompanied by causal understandings of how the innovation works, and why it is better than previously used alternatives. The innovation spreads rapidly because the causal understanding spreads with it.” Boyd et al (2013). This essay compares three theories of evolution: Gerhard Lenski, Leslie White, and Alvin Toffler.

Gerhard Lenski, He views technology as a critical aspect in the evolution of social and cultural society among individuals. Technology in this aspect is defined to as “information about how to use the material resources of a given society or culture to meet human needs and satisfy human desires.” The higher the level of information within a society, the more likely the society will become advanced. Information is thus a crucial factor in the transition from one technological level of development to the other. According to Lenski, “societal survival has been largely a function of a society’s level of technological advance relative to the societies with which it has been in competition.”

Leslie White, Leslie view technology as a component of culture in addition to ideology and sociology all of which are continuously changing thus leading to a general evolution of culture. According to Leslie, “culture evolves as the amount of energy harnessed per capita per year increases or as the efficiency of the means of putting this energy to work is increased.” He sees technology as an aspect that changes due to man attempts of solving problems so as to enhance survival.

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Alvin Toffler, Toffler refers to revolutionary changes in the society and economy in a concept he refers to as “waves.” According to Toffler, human has already passed through the first two stages (waves) and is in the process of entering into the third which is believed to be the knowledge phase. According to Haller (2011), “the way from the first to the current (third) wave was long and difficult, marked by deep changes in all domains as well as at a mental level.” Physical and mental modifications of human brains have contributed to the current transition of the economy and society.

In Conclusion, the theories treats technology as the main factor that contributes to evolution of society. The need to continually meet the growing needs has led to changes in technological aspects thus leading to a general impact on the nature of society. Knowledge is also an important factor as it dictates the extent to which individuals keep up with technological change.


  1. Boyd, R., Richerson, P. J., & Henrich, J. (2013). The cultural evolution of technology: Facts and theories. Cultural evolution: society, technology, language, and religion, 119-142. 2. Zakaria, W., & Alyati, W. F. (2012). Alvin Toffler: Knowledge Technology and Change in Future Society.
  2. International Journal of Islamic Thought, 1, 54-61. 3. Haller, A. P. (2011). Alvin Toffler and the economico-social evolution. Agronomy Series of Scientific Research/Lucrari Stiintifice Seria Agronomie, 54(1). 4. Lenski, G. (2015). Ecological-evolutionary theory: Principles and applications. Routledge. 5. Calhoun, C. (2004). Gerhard Lenski, some false oppositions, and the religious factor.
  3. Sociological theory, 22(2), 194-204. 6. White, L. A. (1943). Energy and the evolution of culture. American Anthropologist, 45(3), 335-356. 7. Lowie, R. H. (1946). Evolution in cultural anthropology: A reply to Leslie White. American Anthropologist, 48(2), 223-233.

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