Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Need for technology

The first instances of 'technology' were created out of a need for survival. Sharp stones and antlers allowed early humans to perform tasks crucial for their survival such as killing other animals for food more easily. If a hunter was not equiped with these technological tools then they would still be able to perform the tasks, but with less efficiency.

Our current technology (the equivilent of sharp stones and antlers) is still used to achieve the same goals crucial for our survival such as gathering sustinence. In the developed countries (I dislike this term but cannot think of a sufficiently sensitive one) we do not need to kill animals for sustinence, but to gather food we need to earn a living, and every job requires technology (i.e cars; ballpoints; or cling film.) To 'survive' in the technological world requires a basic understanding and application of modern technology like the early humans. The difference between us and our early ancestors is that they would still be able to perform the tasks if they did not have their technology, we would not. Most of us would be unable to start a fire, find our way or something to eat if we were to be removed from all our technology.

This reminds me of a passage in The Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy: Mostly Harmless where the main character is stranded on an alien planet that only has primitive technology. He plums the depths of his human experience for something to teach these people. He concludes that without the technology itself he cannot do anything these aliens could do without his technology with the exception of making a good sandwich.

Our first technology was to help us survive. Now we need technology to survive. Maybe we would have been better off if we had simply evolved instead?

1 comment:

  1. The division between nature and culture is an old one but, like many old ideas, has come under sustained critique. Perhaps the most influential recent challenge to this apparently essential binary is the work of Bruno Latour. For Latour, this division is the result of cultural practice: we constantly reinvent the categories of natural and social, allocating certain things to one or the other. From this critical perspective, it becomes difficult to work out where the natural ends and the social begins. This is important when thinking about technology, as it easy to understand it as separate from the natural. Yet what if technology is now part of our ‘natural’ environment; might we not argue that we are perfectly adapted for this hybrid world?


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