A Comparison of Three Perspectives on the Evolution of Technology
Technological advancements play a vital role in shaping modern-day society’s transformations. For example, the digital age has transformed the interaction between people by introducing digital communication channels. Technological advancements have also accelerated human civilization and improved the quality of life due to access to high-quality medical care and increasing connectivity to expand people’s social networks. The advancements are continuous and are mainly influenced by the need to meet people’s needs. Different researchers have explored the evolution of technology based on its impact on human behaviors and the trends in society. The main areas of focus are the relationship between technology and social functions, the impact of technology on culture, and the relationship between technology and civilization. Leslie White, Gerhard Lenski, and Alvin Toffler are among the leading philosophers who have formed different theories on the evolution of technology. Their arguments are founded on their observations of the impact of technology on societies and human behavior. This paper will compare the perspectives of the three philosophers concerning the evolution of technology, determine how they are or may be similar and different, and express a personal view on the theorist that offers the most useful insight into technological evolution.
Gerhard Lenski’s perspective.
Gerhard Lenski focuses on sociological evolution to interpret the changes in technology. He argues that technological evolution creates a foundation for the evolution of cultures and societies. In his view, technological progress has been the main factor influencing the changes in human civilization because human society is impacted by the level of communication, modernization, and scientific advances. Lenski posits that the level of technology in society is vital to human survival because technological progress and civilization cannot be separated. He states, “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.” (Lenski, 2015). This statement suggests that societies that embrace technology have a higher rate of survival than those that do not. According to Lenski, members of a society may have a shared culture, but the cultural patterns diversify as the society gains more information and complex technology. Lenski also categorizes human development into four stages based on the evolution of communication. The first stage includes passing information through genes. The second stage includes passing information through personal experience. The third stage includes developing logic and using signs. The fourth stage includes developing writing and language and creating symbols.
Leslie White’s perspective
Leslie White views technology as part of a culture, including sociology and ideologies that continuously change, leading to cultural evolution. According to him, technology changes as humans attempt to solve problems to increase their likelihood of survival. He posits that the main function of culture that defines the level of development is its ability to control and harness energy. He states, “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” Kan (2007). Based on this statement, people’s efforts and willingness to change influence cultural evolution. He places technology as a major factor in promoting evolutionary changes. According to Leslie, one of the important aspects of technology is its attempt to solve problems by capturing energy and using it to meet human needs and enhance survival. Therefore, the survival rate of a society is influenced by the amount of energy it captures and the ability to redirect the energy into activities that increase survival. Leslie also categorizes culture into three levels: social, organizational, technological, and ideological. Although the three levels interact and influence each other, the technological level is the dominating level, which includes the chemical, physical, mechanical, and material instruments that human beings use to meet their needs and how they use them.
Alvin Toffler’s perspective
Alvin Toffler views the revolutionary societal and economic changes as waves. After the agrarian revolution, the first wave replaced hunting and gathering culture. The second wave lays the foundation for technological evolution. Alvin states that the second wave is characterized by mass distribution, production, consumption, recreation, media, education, destruction, weapons, and entertainment with concentration, centralization, synchronization, standardization, and bureaucracy. He states that human beings have passed the two waves and are entering a third wave characterized by a new idea of progress, a new image of nature, holism, new causality, and time and space. The image of nature in the third wave includes harmony, symbiosis, renewable energy, recycling, and the idea of protecting the environment. Progress is measured based on time, and the rule of causality focuses on the positive and negative feedback and the forces interacting mutually. The rule of causality embraces holism, a systems approach that includes a more integrative way of viewing problems, revolting against overspecialization, and appreciating a multi-disciplinary approach that combines synthesis and analysis approaches. Alvin also posits that the power of knowledge in society influences technological evolution. He states, “…today, in the fast-changing, affluent nations, despite all inequities of income and wealth, the coming struggle for power will increasingly turn into a struggle over the distribution of and access to knowledge” ( Zakaria, 2012). This statement suggests that knowledge will shape the changes in society, and societies with more knowledge will experience more changes.
Comparison of the three perspectives
Lenski and Leslie’s perspectives acknowledge the role of culture in technological evolution. For example, Lenski focuses on society’s cultural and societal basics to demonstrate the technological process’s impact on human civilization’s changes. Leslie views technology as a component of culture. Alvin’s perspective mainly focuses on the role of knowledge in shaping technological evolution. For example, he argues that access to knowledge dictates the level of technological evolution in society as people implement knowledge to solve problems. The main similarity between the three perspectives is that they posit that technology is the key factor influencing societal changes. For example, Lenski suggests that technology is the leading cause of human civilization. Leslie argues that technology promotes cultural evolution, and Alvin suggests that technology influences cultural changes based on the characteristics of the first, second, and third waves that shape revolutionary changes. Based on the arguments made by the three theorists, Lenski’s theory is the most insightful into the evolution of technology because it demonstrates the relationship between technological progress and cultural and societal evolution. For example, it demonstrates how technological progress supports societal and cultural changes, such as the rise of scientific advances, improved communication, and modernization, leading to human civilization. Leslie’s theory is also insightful because of the suggestion that the evolution of technology is influenced by the need to solve problems. The observations in technological advancements in healthcare and communication support this argument. The evolution of technology in healthcare and communication aims to solve problems, such as improving patient treatment and diagnosis and eliminating communication barriers.
Kan, S. (2007). Leslie A. White: Evolution and revolution in anthropology. Ethnohistory, 54(1), 199-202. https://doi.org/10.1215/00141801-2006-047
Lenski, G. (2015). Ecological-evolutionary theory: Principles and applications. Routledge.
Zakaria, W. F. (2012). Alvin Toffler: Knowledge technology and change in future society. International Journal of Islamic Thought, 1(1), 54-61. https://doi.org/10.24035/
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Lesson 8 Skim through Measuring Technological Progress
In your own words, write a short compare-and-contrast essay that defines and explains three distinct perspectives on the evolution of technology. As you write, imagine you are talking to a friend who has no knowledge of this topic. In short, write the way you speak.
I am a high school graduate without a very big vocabulary, using a conversational tone. Also, try to alternate short sentences and longer sentences to make writing more readable.
Be sure to create a title and cite yourself as the author. For example
A Comparison of Three Perspectives on the Evolution of Technology
Paragraph 1 it will contain an overview of what you have to say in comparing and contrasting the perspectives of Gerhard Lenski, Leslie White, and Alvin Toffler with respect to the evolution of technology.
Paragraph 2 describes the perspective of Gerhard Lenski.
Paragraph 3, write about the perspective of Leslie White.
Paragraph 4 describes and discuss the perspective of Alvin Toffler.
Paragraph 5, conclusion, compares the three perspectives to show how they are or may be, similar. Contrast the three perspectives to describe how they’re different. End this process and the essay by expressing your view as to which of these theorists (one or more) offer the most useful insight into the evolution of technology. Use direct quotes from your reading to support your ideas. Two quotes limit. It must include citations and a reference page. Be sure to put a direct quote in quotation marks. Also, be sure to include a citation for any material you paraphrase.