Analyzing the transfer of technology from one place to another can be a very difficult task. People have tried to trace the origins of specific technologies and map out what cultures it affected, why and what impact the technology had on history. Books have been written on conclusions that authors have made after doing the research I have suggested. I believe that obtaining the information to write a book about this subject is extremely hard and confusing, this is a personal assumption that I have made with regard to the fact that reading a book on this subject is hard and confusing. After reading The Tools of Empire by Daniel R. Headrick and excerpts from both Technology in World Civilization by A. Pacey and Major Problems in the History of American Technology, I have formed some opinions of my own primarily based on my readings about nineteenth and twentieth century technology transfer.
During the nineteenth century two major events stand out in connection to technology. First the progress and power of industrial technology, second the domination and exploitation of Africa and Asia by Europeans. In the book The Tools of Empire, Headrick the author connects theses factors through many examples in history. Leading into the twentieth century even though many would like to fast forward into the dawn of electronics, there is still a major focus on technology in Africa and Asia. However, the transfer of technology is now steering away from dominating and leaning towards local adaptation.
Africa and India experienced a deeper affect of technological transfer because they were conquered and colonized by Europe. The steamboat with its ability to travel up and down river enabled Europeans deep into Africa and Asia. The railroad helped eliminate the difficulties of inland transportation for Europeans in India. The steamboat and the Railroad were two important technologies of the nineteenth century that changed many aspects of life in India and Africa. China’s rulers controlled European influence rather tightly, yet there was trade of course. And through the opium war there was an influence of European technology in China.
In the twentieth century the transfer of technology from industrialized to the less industrialized is still happening. Yet it is happening a slightly different manner instead of being forced upon a nation it is being adapted to and for a nation. In the 1930s the United States made advancements in genetic –chemical technology. When the technology reached India in the 1960s is was adapted to the local conditions, therefore it was transferred from the United States and stimulated in India and that is why it was successful. This type of local stimulation also occurred in China and Africa.
Many stimulating factors of the nineteenth century remain factors of the twentieth century. In the nineteenth century there was major shipbuilding out of wood, which lead to iron shipbuilding. Natural resources as a stimulating factor in the Twentieth century can be seen in Africa when they redesigned their stoves because of deforestation. When Europeans tried to explore Africa in the nineteenth century they were killed from diseases, more specific malaria. This led to medical research and even medicine that enabled Europeans to penetrate Africa. In the twentieth century there was a decline in deaths among young children and infants in China, East Asia and India. This was due to medical discoveries in vitamins and protein at this point there was also improved birth control techniques. Other stimulating factors include the government, military, trade and geographic location.
The direction of technology in the nineteenth and twentieth century have many similarities, yet they have important differences. In the nineteenth century there was a drive to dominate the weak. Today we are more likely to help push the weak in the right direction. Many governments have changed since the nineteenth century, which has led to a different direction in the twentieth century. China for example is more influenced by other countries therefore there will be a more direct line of technology in the years to come.
The feeling towards technology transfer has the same principles in the twentieth century as it did last century. Many people will advocate it, some will fear it, others will ignore it and their will always be those who embrace it. There has always been a fear towards technology in some shape or form, which caused people to rebel against it, maybe even for good reason. Most of the time when a technology is transferred I helps some people while hurting others. History has taught us that if we chose not to accept a technology or understand it, the technology will probably hurt us.