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December 11, 2014 / Fantelius

Magnificent Ignorance 2 – Technology 2

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The sun neither sets or rises, but we can’t shake the optical illusion. We can’t feel ourselves turning toward or away from the sun even though we do so at almost 1700 kph.

Technology tricks our perception of reality as well. We don’t feel attached to it even though it surrounds us, clings to our bodies and interacts with us with every move we make. We walk on it, sit on it, sleep on it, eat with it, drink with it, travel in it, hold it, carry it, read, write, speak and listen with it, wash and dry with it, brush and wipe with it, open and close, lock and load and on and on and on with it. At work, at home or in the city we occupy a little part of the space around us saturated with technology that we barely think about. It is so intertwined with our existence that we pay it as little attention as our bone structure or the blood pumping through our bodies. The exception is a new or malfunctioning piece of technology. Then it gets all of our attention.

Every piece of technology, from a toothpick to a space station, is produced from the raw materials of the earth by human energy and often retains some of the energy. Think of primitive Mr. Ahg trying to dig a ditch with a stick. Not very efficient. Finding a branch with a flat and broad base gives him the idea to hack out a shovel with a stone scraper. It takes him quite some time, but his efforts are rewarded by the efficiency with which he can dig. The time spent making the shovel is compensated by the time saved digging the ditch. Should he need to dig an another ditch or a hole, the shovel can be used again because part of the energy used to produce it is still contained in its form, in its structural energy.

Technological development not only enhances, it also accumulates energy. The energy used to bang stone against stone transformed the structural energy of a stone and produced a scraper. This energy was employed to create a wooden shovel which would eventually dig up ore and in combination with other technologies—fire, oven, bellows—melt metal that could be structured to produce arrows, knives, pots and shovels. Ahg’s wooden shovel has today become a bulldozer that can move more earth in an hour than he could move in a lifetime.

Technological development accumulates energy and refines its efficiency. Advanced technology utilizes human energy so effectively that it dazzles away all thoughts of the human touch. But it’s there. When we buy a computer, we are paying not only for the physical material but also the human energy still contained in its function; its design, operating system and interface.

Technology; tools, instruments, computers, clothes, homes, nail polish, etc., are constructed from the earth’s materials recreated by human energy to enhance human strength, abilities and potential. Today’s technologies are the accumulation of a development that began not long before Mr. Ahg produced a wooden shovel.

With this in mind we should ask ourselves why a few people get to own and control the major part of all technology? How do we justify that the earth’s resources and the major part of human energy belongs to a handful of people while the multitude of the earth’s inhabitants must satisfy themselves with bits and pieces or are denied access to these materials and energy altogether?

I’m not going to answer that question, but point out that not all technology is useful, strengthening or beneficial. A great deal of it is useless, harmful and destructive. As long as a tiny portion (1%) of humanity own and control a decisive portion of the resources, energy and technology of the world, useless, harmful and destructive technology will continue to flourish further damaging the climate, contaminating the oceans, polluting the air, impoverishing the soil and promoting conflicts within the body of humanity.

No matter how powerful technology becomes, whether used for good or evil, it will always be people who determine its use. Tools don’t command the user. Not even those we are dependent upon.

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“I told my computer that machines will never be able to think like humans.
My computer thanked me for the compliment.”
Dartwill Aquila

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