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December 10, 2014 / Fantelius

Magnificent Ignorance 1 – Technology

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Ignorance about technology is both reasonable and comical. Reasonable because a definition is still emerging, and comical because humans, who think themselves intelligent (sapient), are unaware of their technological nature.

Technology has always been an indispensable part of Homo sapiens existence. No technology, no humans.

It started with the stone knife about 3 million years ago. Advanced apes, hominids, had been using stones as weapons and tools for more than 1 million years when they discovered the advantages of ”producing” stones with sharp edges. Using an available stone is a technique. Shaping the stone to a desired form is technology. Basically, technology is the reshaping of natural resources into forms that serve specific purposes. Many animals use techniques and some have a simple, static technology such as beaver dams, bird nests and bee hives. But even the most techno-capable life forms such as ants, come nowhere near human capacities.

The stone knife represents the birth of human technology. Primitive technology also included axes, choppers and spears. The knife, however, was unmatched by anything evolution had produced. A knife can cut. Beaks, teeth, horns and claws can pierce, bite, rip and tear, but no animal can cut. They can’t remove hides for clothes, slice sinew to rope, shape sticks to spears or give haircuts, and they can’t slice anything.

From the first stone tools to the ability to use fire marks the period of primitive, pre-human technology, a couple of million years before Homo sapiens evolved.

Fire alone sets humanity apart from anything in the animal kingdom or anything in the living world for that matter. The significance of this extra, controllable and portable, source of energy, heat and light cannot be overestimated. In the process of mastering fire, the human-like apes were baked into ape-like humans. Fire was the midwife for the birth of baby humanity, whose existence was coupled to the use of technology.

Human technology develops at a much faster rate than biological evolution. From knives to spears to sinew cords to axes with handles to fire to metals … to robot grass clippers, a continuous line of development extends from the first stone knife to a super computer as surely as a single cell develops eventually to a billion-celled bartender. Stone knives may represent primitive technology, but they are no less technological than a Hubbell telescope, in the same way as a single cell is no less biological than a gospel choir.

Humans produce technology, technology influences humans. Without humans all technology is junk. Without technology humans go extinct.

Our survival has been dependent upon the production and use of technology since the embryo stage of our existence. The stone knife cut our ties to the animal kingdom and the use of fire burned all bridges leading back. We don’t evolve our skin to deal with the environment, but produce clothes to protect us from the sun, wind, rain, frost and mosquitoes, not to mention clothes that tolerate ocean pressure, resist fire and ”breath.” We produce footwear that allows us to tramp through mud, walk on snow, climb mountains, wander in deserts, dunk a basketball and glide down a catwalk. We don’t even make love without technological assistance. Naked against naked feels delicious, but not without a bed, floor, table, car seat or blanket. Ass against grass occurs as a desperate rather than desirable act. To appear without technology (clothes) in public is a crime. It is forbidden to act ”naturally”, because it is unnatural for humans to function without their technological attributes.

Even eating, the most basic prerequisite of survival, is a technological extravaganza. We don’t hunt our food. We don’t eat it raw. We combine several types of foods and spices into prepared meals and consume these with tools, plates and bowls at tables. A complex organization of production, distribution, storage and preparation provides us with our daily bread, extra virgin olive oil, frozen chicken breasts and salted shelled roasted nuts. Drinking involves cups, glasses, bottles, cans and boxes to drink fruit juice, cow’s milk, hot chocolate, iced tea, instant coffee, sugared-colored-flavored-carbonated water and booze.

We are surrounded by technology, live in it, sleep on it, wear it, carry it, look at it, listen to it, hold it, sit on it, travel in it, etc. Many of us wouldn’t be alive if not for medical technology and some of us would have smaller breasts and more wrinkles.

In summary technology is:
– the manipulation of natural resources into forms that serve human purposes; to help, extend and enhance human abilities and promote human potential.
(Humans also produce junk and destructive technology that do nothing or harm us.)
– the material culture of Homo sapiens. Think of how spears, wheels, boats, phones and pantyhose have affected our patterns of behavior.
– an extension of the human existence, an interface with the world.
– everything human-made or artificial.

Technology, in other words, is natural resources recreated by the intelligent energy of humans. A further explanation of this and its vital significance for humanity will be discussed in the next blog. So stay tuned for Magnificent Ignorance 2 – Technology 2

BTW: There is more to say about technology, particularly the modern digital and nano breeds. This will be dealt with under Magnificent Ignorance – Language.

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“Thanks to modern communication technology
we can now be interrupted and disturbed anywhere at anytime.”
Dartwill Aquila

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4 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. camelien / Dec 15 2014 12:25 pm

    your words are a symphony of images complimenting my views, vlogmate; though the actual photo above makes my spirit dance with delight, as well. play on with both, please.

    btw, ‘Dartwill Aquila’s quote above reminds me of why I no longer carry a ‘cell-phone.’ 😉

    • Fantelius / Dec 15 2014 2:23 pm

      Perhaps I should have mentioned that the silver statue is a piece of street-art in Berlin.

  2. Tyler / Dec 10 2014 9:43 pm

    true art!!

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  1. Magnificent Ignorance 4 – Language 2 | System Humanity

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