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Sharon Turner

EAP Teacher (English for Academic Purposes), Sabanci University

TEDCRED 500+

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Is resistance to technology use in society based on our evolution history tied to the land rather than the machine?

While recently reading a book The Nature of Technology-What it is and how it evolves by W. Brain Arthur, one extract has really resonated with me. Here is the extract:

“as humans, we are attuned not to the things we hope in-not to technology-but to something different. We are attuned in the deepest parts of our being to nature, to our original condition as human-kind. We have familiarity with nature, a reliance on it that comes from three million years of at-homeness with it. We trust nature. When we happen upon technology such as stem cell regenerative therapy, we experience hope. But we also immediately ask how natural this technology is. And so we are caught between two deep unconscious forces: Our deepest hope as humans lies in technology; but our deepest trust lies in nature. These forces are like tectonic plates grinding inexorably into each other in one long slow collision”. (Arthur: 2009 pg11)

Pondering on this thought I wonder whether fervent resistance to technology or blending the machine and the human is tied to our evolutionary history. Are we witnessing a new epoch in our own evolution? If, yes where will it lead us?

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    May 18 2011: The rate of technological change increased very slowly from ancient times through the middle ages up to the beginning of the modern era from and after the Reformation. Beginning in the eighteenth century in Britain, the rate of technological change began accelerating in a manner never experienced before and continues to accelerate to this day. Until at least the end of the nineteenth century technological change (cheaper fabrics, better public health, easier movement from place to place) was seen by most people as beneficial (except of course for those who lost their employment because of it, such as the weavers). Starting some time in the twentieth century, with things changing faster and faster, some people began getting nervous, and that nervousness has increased and been transmuted into positive alarm on the part of many people today. Technological change has led to vast social changes and we as a species just are not accustomed to dealing with such things. The fact is generally accepted that through millions of years during paleolithic times our ancestors experienced almost no change at all. Over the past, say, fifteen thousand years there have been very significant changes, but still at much, much slower rates than is true today. As a species, I personally don't believe we have as yet any evolutionary adaptation to the kind of change that has become normal over the past three hundred years. Accordingly, many people demonize technological change and idealize whatever they conceive of as "nature." Particularly if they have a social memory of having been injured by technological change in the past (as in the U.K.) I think that the rate of technological change will remain very, very fast because of the obvious and overwhelming economic benefits it brings.

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