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Aspects of Technology


According to Wikipedia, Technology is the making, usage, and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, crafts, systems or methods of organization in order to solve a problem or perform a specific function. It can also refer to the collection of such tools and machinery. The word technology comes from Greek τεχνολογία (technología); from τέχνη (téchnē), meaning “art, skill, craft”, and λογία (-logía), meaning “study of-“.

Webster defines the term as “systematic treatment”, and “the science or study of the practical or industrial arts, applied sciences”, and “a method or process for handling a specific technical problem”. Online Webster defines it a little different but along the same lines…

This online dictionary defined it in a way I considered comprehensive and meaningful – ” the branch of knowledge that deals with the creation and use of technical means and their interrelation with life, society, and the environment, drawing upon such subjects as industrial arts, engineering, applied science, and pure science” – and the one I respected the most by the same source was the following – ” the sum of the ways in which social groups provide themselves with the material objects of their civilization”.

Technology refers to tools and procedures. It is the state of knowledge and development – instinctive or cognitive- that permits a living organism, at any given time, control over its surroundings.  It includes all tools (utensils, devices, machinery, inventions, and structures), all methods (skills, processes, and techniques), and all applied materials (both raw and manufactured). In the most general sense, technology is the ability to control Nature.

In spite of how we define technology, it seems obvious to me that it is one of the most important platforms of our trajectory as humans. It has become one of the basic aspects of our development, and it is linked to almost every other facet of our lives. Our human ancestors started using bone and stone tools long before Homo Sapiens 200,000 years ago during what is known as the Oldowan industry. Even before that, 2.5 million years in the past, in the Great Rift Valley of Ethiopia, there is evidence of tool usage. There is even scientifically unproven evidence that in the desert of Ice in Peru there were people etching rocks as far back as 60 million years ago.

In addition to this, despite many people thinking that humans are the source of technology, there is evidence of it all over Nature, and most of our basic tools already existed long before we were even an idea. For example, did we invent the wheel? Not if we consider that Dung Beetles were rolling with a purpose 40 million years ago. Did we come up with radar or sonar? No. Bats and Cetaceans have been using echolocation for millions of years, long before us. Did we come up with the water retention technologies? Hardly. Even if we have certainly improved the technology, it was the beaver who started it all.

We humans would like to think that technology is a consequence of our existence and that we are its originators. I think it is obvious that it was being used on this planet long before the human presence, and that our application of it is only an extension of what already existed.

Every subject of the animal kingdom depends on a body to interface with its surroundings. Each body is a group of organic systems working together to create a living mechanism or organism. The only reality that has separated an animal from a machine is the capacity to self-sustain, make efficient choices (be them instinctive or conscious), and reproduce. This is quickly ending since soon there will be machines that can do all this. The human body is the most advanced organism on this planet. It is not the most intricate, delicate, or complex but it is the most advanced because it can “think”. It can observe its surroundings, ingest the data, deposit it in a memory bank and analyze it. When it is done analyzing it, it brings it back out totally different. It converts it into expressions that can vary infinitely from ideas and action. Form, function, and motion. The human body is the ultimate A/D-D/A converter on the face of this planet, there is nothing else like it.

A full functioning human has five transducers that perceive five different types of energy and convert them into signals that are then carried to a central converter that digitizes them into data. What happens with that data is anybody’s guess. We know some of it, but not all. We know it gets converted into conscious and unconscious commands that help us decide our survival at a cognitive level, and control our systemic organs and manage our cellular metabolism at a non-cognitive one. But do we know that we don’t know the rest? I don’t think so. I don’t even think we know that we don’t know why in the midst of all that fantastic process between perception and expression we get so happy or sad, depressed or euphoric, peaceful or violent…

I think my point is getting clearer. Reality does not begin or end at the limits of our perception. When string becomes established fact, there will be something else that becomes string. When we reach the end of this universe, we will see two more side by side. However, if we focus on what we can perceive with our given senses Here and Now, we will see things we did not expect to see, and we will understand things we didn’t understand before. We will see a bird flying in the sky and notice it has a twig in its beak, we will follow its flight to the branch and see it weave the twig into others, and notice that a platform for holding eggs is taking shape. Some bees are building in a hollow on the trunk of the same tree. The still dry cells are visible through opening, and as we get closer, a wasp lands on the bark and starts stinging the tree. We get even closer and notice that it isn’t stinging it, it’s drilling a hole to deposit some eggs. Our fascination becomes a high and all of a sudden we see fish flying, lizards walking on water, spiders spinning castles in the air, blind flying mammals catching bugs with their mouths in mid-air, and Aristotle and Steven Vogel having a conversation right in front of us.

Ultimately it doesn’t matter what our platform of belief, or our knowledge of science or metaphysics or dogma is. It doesn’t matter whether we come from monkeys or God unfolded us in six days. The Universe happens with or without our involvement. It does not care whether we survive or not, and it definitely doesn’t pay attention to whether we believe in evolution or creation.  What does matter is where we are today and what we are doing with what we have been given by our ancestry from the past, even if we don’t know the precise origins.

Given the perceived and alleged shelf life, history, and characteristics of our planet, we should be humbled and grateful every second of our lives for living on such an awesome being. I don’t believe it is random chance or divine providence, I don’t believe we have come up with a word that can define our origins or the origins of the universe, and I don’t believe we ever will. What I do believe without a doubt is that all the attributes we possess as humans, whether they are gifts from a higher consciousness, or the consequence of unguided evolutionary action, are there for a reason and have a very basic and specific purpose: the understanding and caretaking of our immediate surroundings and environment to ensure well being for every form of life therein. Our aptitude for investigative science and our capacity to convert that data into tangible technology make us the obvious candidates for that function.

Jan Tholenaar is an Audio-Video-Network-Control Systems Integrator living and servicing the Dade and Broward areas of Southern Florida. He is the founder and owner of ConnTech Incorporated, a trustworthy installation and staffing organization offering well-trained, fully insured, and well-paid technicians. He has been servicing the Dade and Broward local markets since 1997, and the National, South American, and Caribbean markets since 1989. He can be reached here, or send him a note here.

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