“Is necessity the mother of invention?”

David Nye (2006) a historian of technology from Denmark observed that “the central purpose of technologies has not been to provide necessities, such as food and shelter, for humans had achieved these goals very early in their existence” (2). Nye and others find that the adage “necessity is the mother of invention” is just the opposite of what we observe in humans’ use of technology; as humans invent technologies, they redefine what is necessary.


Nye, David. (2006). Technology Matters: Questions to Live With. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.