In this chapter, we take a “Kurzweilian” approach [1-3] to interpreting some of the technologies discussed thus far and cast these into a framework of mechanoevolution, a term recently introduced to describe how machines are selected by and form symbioses with humans (e.g., [4,5]). Although the prediction of specific technologies that may appear in the future is typically unreliable, if we place bounds upon the limits of sophistication that a technology is capable of reaching with a combination of Gould’s Left-Wall Hypothesis , Shannon’s Information Theory , and Carnot’s mathematical presentation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics , some headway might be gained. To do so, we enlist the metric, α, Table 18.1, which relates the physical entropy generation rate of a specific technology to its mathematical information generation rate. In general, the manufacturing of both small technologies and very large technologies consumes more energy per unit mass to produce than humanscale technologies and thus generates more environmental entropy per unit mass of product during a production cycle. Unexpectedly, however, during their operating life cycle, both smaller technologies and larger technologies have superior
information-to-entropy ratios than mesoscale technologies. The result is that the information throughput density of microdevices and likely nanodevices typically “pay off” on an energy-invested to quality-of-life basis as compared to their predecessors. This is because smaller technologies with high information processing rates typically result in a large savings or beneficial reallocation of human metabolic energy or technological energy. This chapter begins with a historical perspective on the beginnings of technology, discusses key stepping stones, and concludes with a series of vignettes on where our technologies may lead us.