The Malthus‐Boserup explanatory framework is revisited from the point of view of viability theory. Instead of imposing a univocal relationship between population pressure and level of knowledge, the way technology will change is not determined, it is only constrained. This leads to regard any situation as associated to a set of reachable futures. When no possibility is left for systems to avoid extinction, systems are no longer viable. Hence, the control‐phase space can be divided into regions corresponding to gradual danger or security.
This point of view allows the introduction of ideas such as incentives to create or to use new knowledge, gives a role to the threatening power of Malthusian checks and leaves space for a specific variety of behaviors. The Boserupian theme then appears indirectly, emerging from the constraints imposed by the inertia of technological change.