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The evolution of technology is Darwinian
Mark Bedau
Editor in chief of "Artificial Life"
mab@reed.edu

Abstract

Darwinian evolution happens when natural selection shapes an evolving population, even if that population is not biological. This talk investigates whether Darwinian evolution shapes the population of patented technologies. Analysis of the patent record reveals the signature of Darwinian evolution. It also shows that patent genealogies are especially tangled and incestuous and that "door-opening" innovations are among the key drivers of technological innovation. These results show the promise of the Darwinian analysis of the evolution of technology, including answers to the criticisms of Darwinian analyses of culture, and practical applications in automated text analysis.

Keywords

darwinian evolution, technology