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Techno-Cultural Evolution: Cycles of Creation and Conflict / Edition 1

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Evolution has long shaped human behavior. Yet just recently have we learned that evolution based on natural selection is not the continuous process Darwin assumed. It is instead a two-part process of change and stability called punctuated equilibrium, with natural selection operating mainly on the frontiers of change.

Taking account of biology’s latest understanding of evolution, it becomes clear that culture evolves by a similar process. This is important because over the past 30,000 years most human evolution and the behavioral changes that go with it have occurred in our cultures–not in our genes. Knowing the process by which culture evolves clarifies the origin of many of our current problems, both within and between cultures. The author contends that new technology drives cultural evolution much as mutations change our DNA. The problem is that technology is now coming at us so fast that it is inducing “circuit overload” in cultures all over the world, leading to conflict. Techno-Cultural Evolution, which builds on the insights of such bestsellers as Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel and Collapse, explains how this process works—and what it means for all of us.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"W. M. Wallace's book on the subject of cultural evolution and technology certainly makes for good reading. This new entry to the relatively scarce collection of texts on technological evolution is elegantly edited and well-written, and contributes much original food for thought. . . . In [its] final chapters, the conflict between Western and Eastern cultures and the clash between Christian and Islamic fundamentalism is very intelligently analyzed. The strength of this book relies undoubtedly on these final chapters, and I personally recommend it to any intelligent person who is concerened about humanity's future and interested in being acquainted on how the world presently operates."

"An interesting and unorthodox approach to one of the great scientific mysteries of today—how culture evolves. Genetic evolution is a well-verified and quite complete theory, but there is no comprehensive view on how human non-genetic information changes through time. Techno-Cultural Evolution takes a novel step in that direction."

"From the first tool to the present day, Wallace’s Techno-Cultural Evolution reveals the inner workings of the systems that make and break us. It is a book for the times—carefully reasoned, deep, and immediately relevant to the decisions facing us today. His ‘FROCA’ theory has the elegance that marks an enduring hypothesis."

"Provides a general tour of human history to outline a theory that aims to answer the question of why and how technology evolves. . . . Recommended."

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781597971072
  • Publisher: Potomac Books Inc.
  • Publication date: 6/30/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

William McDonald Wallace, PH.D., retired from the Boeing Company in 1992 as chief economist. Currently he is dean of the School of Business at St. Martin’s College in Lacey, Washington. He lives in the Olympia-Tacoma area.

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Table of Contents

1 The FROCA process of cultural evolution 3
2 Climatic crisis and the risen ape 15
3 The ice ages and a bigger brain 23
4 Techno-culture takes over 29
5 Farming as a new frontier 41
6 Release and exploitation : a population explosion 49
7 Social crash as intra-tribal anarchy 55
8 Adaptation through despotic civilization 61
9 Equilibrium through repressed technology 71
10 Empires evolve to quell inter-tribal warfare 79
11 Barbaric disruption : the fall of Rome 87
12 Feudalism opens new frontiers of technology 97
13 Europe revives to exploit colonial frontiers 105
14 Democracy challenges despotism 113
15 New technologies open industrial frontiers 119
16 America's new frontier 129
17 Clashing founder effects and the Civil War 137
18 The high-tech frontier takes over 143
19 America as sole superpower 161
20 Globalization and its discontents 175
21 Resurgent high-tech tribalism and a crash of the western alliance 189
22 Technology and the global ecosystem 195
23 A post-crash theocracy for a stable global ecosystem 205
24 A more hopeful scenario 215
App. 1 Science and evolution 231
App. 2 Autopoiesis : toward an integrated theory of human behavior 237
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