Encyclopedia Britannica Illustrated Science Library 2009 15 – Technology

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Encyclopedia Britannica Illustrated
Science Library 2009 15 – Technology
Edition 2009
pages 56

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Encyclopedia Britannica Illustrated
Science Library 2009 15 – Technology

.Many animal species use tools, and some,such as crows and
apes, can even create them. But only our species has taken this
ability to such an extreme that it can be said that we maintain
an evolutionary symbiosis with these tools. In other words, our
ability to develop complex tools increased our
intelligence, allowing us to manufacture even more complex
tools. This, in turn, launched a new phase in this cycle, and
,after several million years it finally led to the modern human
who continues to develop tools that will likely continue to
transform the species. Of course, this history has not always
followed a linear path. In the 9,000 years since humans
discovered agriculture and cattle farming, many inventions
were discovered many times and forgotten nearly as many
times. Today we are surprised to learn that the Romans
knew about concrete and that they had taxis and hamburger
stands or that the Greeks developed the basic principles of the
locomotive and the steam engine (although, oddly enough, they
never combined the two to invent the railroad). We have
developed the most absurd theories to explain the construction
of the pyramids in Egypt or the moai of Easter Island. This
winding history, with steps forward and steps backward, can
be explained thus: technical inventions are a specific response
to the specific needs of a given human group, and when these
needs or the people who needed to meet those needs disappear
or change, the inventions associated with them also disappear or
change. Afew centuries ago, the creative ability of human beings
took a major leap forward when tools associated with craft and
empirical techniques began to complement science, thus
systematizing the methods of production. This is how modern
technology emerged, allowing improved preservation not just
of know-how but also of the economic, social, and cultural
aspects involving this know-how. Once tool making ceased to
be something that was passed on from master craftsman to
apprentice and became an organized set of procedures and
knowledge accessible to a specialized community, the human
ability to invent new tools underwent an explosion similar to
the one it experienced 9,000 years earlier. Virtually overnight
(thousands of objects appeared (and would continue to appear
that changed our way of seeing and understanding the world
the clock, which allowed us to divide time and set a new pace for
our lives; the printing press, which allowed knowledge to be
spread beyond a privileged few; the refrigerator, which
enriched and diversified our nutrition practices; the
cinema, which opened up the possibility of dreaming
while awake; the Internet, which erased borders and
distances; and robotics and artificial intelligence, which
led us to question our definition of being human. With the
emergence of technology, you could say that our lives are
. surrounded by marvelous objects