"New archaeological research from The Australian National University (ANU) has found that Homo erectus, an extinct species of primitive humans, went extinct in part because they were ‘lazy’." Source: Eurasian Review.
"An archaeological excavation of ancient human populations in the Arabian Peninsula during the Early Stone Age, found that Homo erectus used ‘least-effort strategies’ for tool making and collecting resources."
Comment: These archaeologists claim to have found evidence that Homo erectus used whatever rocks were lying around to make their tools while ignoring higher quality rocks available (with a little more effort) at a nearby outcrop:
"They knew [the better rock outcrop] was there, but because they had enough adequate resources they seem to have thought, 'why bother?'
"This is in contrast to the stone tool makers of later periods, including early Homo sapiens and Neanderthals, who were climbing mountains to find good quality stone and transporting it over long distances."
These Homo erectus layabouts also seem to have stubbornly kept to their old ways of doing things even though their environment was going through changes that threatened their survival if they didn't alter their habits:
"Not only were they lazy, but they were also very conservative," according to one of the researchers, and this lack of adaptability in the face of climate change may have contributed to their extinction.
If you take all of this at face value Homo erectus doesn't sound too bright, but there are other ways to interpret the finds at this site. For instance, the archaeologists are assuming that "least-effort strategies" are a sign of laziness, but they could be a sign of basic practicality. After all, why work harder than you have to if it isn't necessary to achieve your goals? It's also possible that Homo erectus simply lacked the mental capacity for innovation found in modern humans. Considering the fact that they weren't modern humans, that wouldn't be very surprising.
They were smart enough to use fire and make handaxes, though. According to The Smithsonian, "the appearance of Homo erectus in the fossil record is often associated with the earliest handaxes, the first major innovation in stone tool technology," and "evidence for the controlled use of fire by Homo erectus, beginning some 600,000 years ago, has wide scholarly support." (Wikipedia) They were social animals as well. According to Wikipedia, "Homo erectus was probably the first hominin to live in a hunter-gatherer society, and anthropologists such as Richard Leakey believe that erectus was socially more like modern humans than the more Australopithecus-like species before it."
If any of this is accurate, I guess you could say that Homo erectus was innovative up to a certain point, but too limited mentally to develop any further. They weren't necessarily "lazy" -- I don't see how you could call any of these early hominins lazy considering the effort it must have taken just to stay alive back then -- but when they found a system that worked they never bothered to improve it. They were creatures of habit who stuck to the routines that had worked for them in the past and this led to their eventual extinction when they couldn't adapt to changing environmental conditions.
In a way, they sound a lot like modern humans. Based on my own experience, I'd say that we have a tendency to settle into ruts and stay there until some outside force compels us to change our ways. In the case of Homo erectus, maybe the thing that finally forced them out of their behavioral rut was their own extinction event.
The same thing could be happening to us.