What is technology? Really. There is so much talk of technology this, technology that, and all the time, it is implied that we all know what ‘technology’ really is. But do we? I think we will all agree that a car is one type of technology. But what about our bodies? Wikipedia defines ‘Technology’ as ” the usage and knowledge of tools, techniques, crafts, systems or methods of organization in order to solve a problem or serve some purpose”.
Well, with our bodies we can walk, talk, hear, see, feel, etc. We use the tools our hands are when we write, eat, drive and fish. We use the tools our eyes are when we see and focus. We use the tool our brains are when we solve a problem. So, yes, I’d definitely say that our bodies are one form of technology. And when we use a fishing rod, we extend the tools our hands are to that fishing rod. When we use a calculator we extend the tool our brain is to that calculator. And not only humans have built in technology, all animals and plants have that too. Like when a fly uses it’s wings to fly. Or when a leaf converts CO2 in to organic matter with the help of solar power.
Our world is filled with technology. Every plant, insect, animal and human is a walking, swimming or flying technological wonder. And Man has through the inspiration from the world around him created new technology that extends Man’s capabilities in countless ways. So, technology is not only all the wonders Man has created. No, technology was here long before us.
Since Man’s first use of external technology with clubs and the discovery of fire Man has developed technology that has helped him fly like the birds, dive like the dolphins and go faster than an antilope. Today we have technology that was unimaginable only 20 years ago. Many people think we have come far and are in awe of all the new technology we have. Others doesn’t like the technology, thinks it ruins nature, are afraid of it, and want’s to live without it. Still others are afraid the technology will take their jobs and leave them unemployed. They are all in their full right to think this way.
It can certainly seem like technology is the one to blame when it comes to the pollution of the planet, wars and bombing, technological unemployment and the dumbing down by television. But, is it really ‘technology’ per se we can blame for all of this? Isn’t ‘technology’ only a neutral tool that can be used as the user wishes? Certainly, a knife can be used both to kill with….and to cut bread with. Is it the knifes fault if someone uses it to kill his neighbor? It most certainly isn’t. It is the user’s fault, not the knife’s.
And this can be extended to all technology. Bombs doesn’t drop themselves. Guns have to be aimed and the trigger pulled for it to harm anyone. Even with today’s advancement in war technology, the computers that run the missiles still have to be programmed. So, is it ‘technology’s’ fault? All the wars, the pollution, the ‘alienation’. No. Technology is not at fault. At best, we can excuse ourselves with saying that ‘we were taken by surprise’. That the technology has developed so fast that it can be hard to keep up and put the technology to the right and good use, but not more. We can’t blame technology.
Technology is neutral. Technology is nothing but a set of tools that we can use to better our lives and the environment on this planet to it’s fullest, or it can be used to destroy ourselves. And it is certainly not technology’s fault if we use it to the latter.
Technology has gotten a ‘bad reputation’ in a lot of ways, but this reputation is definitely undeserved if we just open our eyes to look at what the development of technology has done for us. Things that was utterly impossible a hundred years ago. And the things I am thinking of are obvious and too many to count. We can fly from Paris to New York in a few hours. We can look through our bodies and get clear images of the inside. We can talk to anyone anywhere on the planet at anytime from almost anywhere. I can sit and write on a keyboard and letters pop up in black and white on a crisp and clear screen. I can even record moving images in crisp color and transfer them to the other side of the globe in a matter of minutes. If you have bad vision you can get it fixed in minutes with a lazer beam. We have satellites mapping the planet, making it possible to navigate anywhere with a little flat box with a screen.
Today, technology has come so far that we doesn’t think of it anymore. We take electricity for granted, running water, computers, the internet, shoes, nylon stockings, loud speakers, windows, DVDs, television, plastic bags, cardboard, paper, books, stainless steel, aluminum, concrete buildings, cars, planes, space shuttles, printers, cell phones, ovens, refrigerators, watches, water closets, rubber balls, sunglasses and cameras are all just ‘there’. We don’t gasp in awe anymore when someone turns on the fosset.
Hollywood and media has depicted technology as something to be afraid of, through films like Terminator. It should be utterly clear, though, that it is not ‘technology’ we have to fear, only some mad men’s use of it. As we can see, technology has helped, and is continually helping Mankind in it’s quest towards a better life. Even if you are a ‘nature person’, likes to be in nature, grow your own vegetables, doesn’t have television, maybe not even electricity, heats your home with a wood stove and copes without the internet.
Even you are using technology when you use your spade instead of your hands to dig with. Or when you put wood into your stove instead of burning it on the ground. Even using wood and fire is use of technology. Or when closing the door to your house behind you instead of living outside. Or when you put on a warm jacket in the winter. Or….well, you get my point. We are all using technology in some way or another. As mentioned earlier, even our hands and brains can be called technology, since they are tools that can help us solve problems and serve a purpose. And with them, we might even design a needle and a thread to sew together the two fur parts of the bison we just killed with the spear we had also made from a rock.
We can’t escape technology. Since we have hands to do things with and brains to think with, we are doomed to solve problems and try to make our lives easier for our selves. And in that, we most certainly have succeeded, even though it might not feel like it, since technology can be quite overwhelming at times. But for those who think we have ‘come far’ when it comes to technology; this is only the beginning. The technology will continue to develop beyond our wildest dreams in the years to come. And it will be far easier to use, safer, more user friendly, more integrated with Man, and we will notice it even less. It will be built in to our environment in a larger degree than ever before.
Some might be afraid that ‘the machines’ will ‘take over’. That maybe some day, when our lives are so controlled by technology that we can not control it anymore, one computer will say ‘Man is a threat to this planet’ and simply annihilate us. Or they may be afraid that technology will replace all our jobs, and we will all be out of work. In any case will neither of these scenarios be the fault of ‘technology’, but rather the fault of Man and the systems Man has created for herself through the mindset he has harbored and through technology she has created. So, technology is not to fear, only our mindsets and the systems it creates. Bear in mind that we already let technology control a huge part of our lives, even today. When we get in our cars, we trust the speedometer to tell us the speed, the cruise control to hold it and the breaks to stop the car when we press them.
If we are to ‘save’ this planet, we can only hope to do it with technology, not without. If we are to do it without any of the present or coming inventions we have to do it without humans as well. The question is how we use the technology. We have established that the technology itself is not to blame for the problems we have, our mindsets and systems are. And the biggest system to blame, is the monetary system with the free market system. The system of money and profit is a so ingrained mindset in the mind of humanity, that few people even think of it as anything ‘unnatural’, but rather take it for granted, as air and water, something that has always been there, and that has to be there for our survival. But, has it? Certainly not. There are no money in nature. And guess what? It thrives and grows abundantly.
A lot of the technology we have today has been developed to maximize profit and to serve the monetary system in one way or another. This is the reason technology is not always serving Mankind and planet Earth. This is the reason technology has been used to develop weapons for wars, gas guzzling and polluting engines for cars, lightbulbs that only last a 1000 hours, nylon stockings that rip for a good word, genetically modified soy plants that harm the environment, supertankers that leaks and kills millions of birds and fish, cell phones that breaks and cars that rust. Instead we could have had electric pollution free cars that outrun gas driven ones, if the development of batteries hadn’t stopped a 100 years ago, when the electric car was invented. We could have had nylon stockings and light bulbs that had lasted a lifetime, if it wasn’t for the profit motive. We wouldn’t have had huge oil tanker accidents, atom bombs and wars if it wasn’t for the monetary system, demanding we all hoard for our selves.
No, technology is not to blame, we are. When we finally wake up, we will see that technology is, and will always be, like a knife. We can use it to cut apples and share them with our neighbor, or we can use it to kill our neighbor for taking them. The choice will always be ours. When we realize that money is not what we need, but rather the communion with each other, and the sharing of experiences and information, water and food, land and energy. Then we will realize that technology will be our indispensable and invaluable helping hand in all of this. With a new mindset, a mindset freed from the slavery of money, trade and ‘ownership’, then we can start to create a truly sustainable world and use technology in it’s fullest extent to help us with this.