Forgotten origins

21 junija, 2016/ Psihologija, Tehnologija/

When someone utters word nature, most people visualize lush green forests, rivers abundant with water and snow-covered mountains or maybe all of the aforementioned together (if you really need proof for this cliché, try a simple Google images or Flickr search). On the other hand, when talking about technology, common sense is to think about something that has no connection with nature whatsoever. We visualize blinking servers packed in a dim-lit room, sophisticated robots or state of the art satellites ready to be launched into space (I admit Flickr and Google images are in this case for some reason pretty keen on chips, so you may add integrated circuits to the list as well). As we had just portrayed on an example of typical visualizations, we seem to separate the nature from technology in two very distant mental boxes.

Therefore, it seems a rather surprising observation that every technology originates from nature. Intuitively this somehow feels incorrect. However, if you put more thought into it, you will not be able to think of a technology that is not derived from nature (putting sci-fi aside). This makes sense, if you put yourself in time when our ancestors started inventing first fragments of technology. All around them was nature (this time often similar to our cliché visualizations). They couldn’t invent them from nothing, but they simply used what was in their hands reach. And we can assume they used technology to help them reach their goals more easily. In fact, you can define technology as nature canalized to serve human goals.

Thus, it is essential what resources Earth harbored. They were all that was available. It was their default setting. We can speculate that if humans would evolve on some other planet with different properties and therefore resources, our technologies would be different. The world of Stone Age people (on planet Earth) was the world of materials depicted in The Flintstones, mostly stone, wood and parts of animals. Here, we perceive technology still as natural. It seems, looking with today’s eyes, as if there was a point in human history, when technology started to look unnatural. My hunch is that this point of unnaturalness in technological progress could be the first usage of metals. Swords probably just didn’t look natural.

In sum, only by processing of planet default materials and through thousands of years of perfecting these procedures (one stage of it being Bronze Age advent of metal usage), we were able to reach the present state of technology, which sometimes seems alien to us. So, the next time you will use your smartphone, consider you hold a piece of nature in your hand.