August 24, 2007

The Secret Behind Technological Advancement

Introduction: Technology evolves spontaneously. No person, race, country, or social entity is responsible. Evolution of technology comes down to iterations that happen on their own. Random social trajectories interact, iterations happen, and technological evolution happens.

Technology progresses in two ways.

1. Iterations and repetition.
2. Paradigm shifts.

Paradigm shifts are very rare. Most technological progress is due to iterations and repetition.

Research facilities iterate and repeat. They take existing technology, vary the input and input conditions slightly and study the output. They do this over and over again using Trial & Error.

This trial and error process produces a lot of useless junk......and once in a while it produces something useful...i.e. technology has evolved.

Doesn't take much intelligence to iterate.

It is paradigm shifts in technology that are worth noticing. For example, the shift from mechanical calculators to digital calculators.

(The shift from windows95 to winXP is NOT a paradigm shift, for example.)

Evolution due to iterations is spontaneous and accidental...but...even paradigm shifts in technology are spontaneous and accidental.


No conscious effort on the part of humans is responsible for paradigm shifts in technology. They did not ‘cause’ the paradigm shift. It happened through them, SPONTANEOUSLY and ACCIDENTALLY. Huge difference.

The feeling that our society, race, country, is intellectually superior to others because we progressed technologically and they could not is totally baseless.



  • All progress is spontaneous and a result of complex interactions between diverse trajectories that transcend geography, culture, socio-economics, race.
  • No social group can take credit for technological progress. The humans involved are just tools, just conduits; progress happens through them. Not because of them.
  • Technological evolution is a product of the self-organisation principle in which various social trajectories (like banks, research labs. etc) interact and growth occurs. There is NO director, NO controller of the progress.
_ _ _ _ _


Progress, in all fields of human endeavour, is spontaneous, accidental, and in no one's control.

There is no director or controller of progress. In any field of human endeavour, not just science. No methods that can be singled out and given credit to.

The following text from KuhnPopper sums up this view, edited slightly, for clarity.

What is Scientific Progress?

Most people, including many scientists, view science as a bricklaying process:

A. Logical rational testing and observation of the world produces pieces of knowledge - "bricks".

B. These pieces of knowledge eventually reach some critical stage in which new scientific theories emerge - "buildings".


However, a study of the history of science does not uphold A & B.

Study of the history of science shows that:

1. Scientific knowledge and technology both appear to move in fits and starts.

2. Progress is erratic, moving at different speeds at different times and often in unpredictable directions.

Nassim Taleb's ideas via Wikipedia:

Black swan events were introduced by Nassim Nicholas Taleb in his 2001 book Fooled By Randomness, which concerned financial events. His 2007 book The Black Swan extended the metaphor to events outside of financial markets. Taleb regards almost all major scientific discoveries, historical events, and artistic accomplishments as "black swans"—undirected and unpredicted. He gives the rise of the Internet, the personal computer, World War I, dissolution of the Soviet Union, and the September 2001 attacks as examples of black swan events.


  1. The move from Windows95 to Windows XP was not a paradigm shift, but from DOS to Windows was!! Most of pradaigm shift innovation results in a windfall of profits.

    Most of the "paradigm shift innovations/inventions" take place in the developed world of USA/EUROPE/JAPAN. And thus resulting in these countries always leading the way in technology and also in money earnings!! WHY????

    Why are we Indian's stuck with only the interations on platforms built by the western world?? WHY WHY WHY?

  2. Hey Gaurav!

    Great to see you here!

    The answer...well...I don't know, but here is my theory:

    Indians don't succeed because:

    1. Indians spend their evening drinking and playing cards.

    2. Indians spend their day politick-ing more than anything else.

    3. Indians spend their evenings in shady Cabrets.

    4. If the shady cabret they visit is closed, they spend their free time looking at naked white women on the internet!

    The day has only 24 hours, and the human has limited energy!

    So its like...the average indian is a simple fellow. Has very few things running around in his head.

    a) Money. b) Wine. c) Women.

    He aint interested in progressing!

    Just a theory.


  3. Well Vikram, good thinking...

    My two cents are here...

    Life Happens...
    and so does everything in it
    The issue of control and creation
    Is a delusion,
    Its in the script man
    and so things happen

    Of course we need a medium
    And thats the purpose served by the human

    I love india the way it is...if progress means looking westward i resolutely look eastwards.

    And Vikram, i believe the activities you listed supports a large swathe of our population through creative gainful employment. And i am sure a lot of happiness is found for it to flourish...i find no fault for what we do...after a day of hard physical labour...i am sure every soul is entitled to some entertainment...And the world and most of its businesses finally rotate around getting women and making money and its cool...let things be...

    Harish Nair