Subject: Technology is human behavior, not "new life"
Alan McGowan [Hi, Alan] writes:
> McClellan seems convinced that humans have opened a new
> chapter of evolution with technology, and he writes of
> technology as if it were as autopoietic as organic life. In fact
> all technology is dependent on humans to maintain it, and
> through humans, on the life support services of ecosystems.
> Technology is not a new form of postbiological life, it is part
> of the extended phenotype of human life, just as the beaver dam
> is part of the extended phenotype of beavers. It is part of
> biology -- a fragile part, every bit as dependent on the
> maintenance of biological integrity and healthy ecosystems as we
> humans are -- because technology is human behavior, human
> culture, human traits.
A computer is not a "technology". The ability to make a
computer, and to program it to do something, is "technology".
Techno Logos. Technique Words. Knowledge of Techniques. And so
our technology is intrinsically social, since human capabilities
are intrinsically social.
[Insert favorite wolf-boy story here]
We have to be careful of the difference between technology
being under our control and imaging that technology is under our
control. If the argument is that in the 18th and 19th centuries,
technology was thought to be under human control, and now we can
point to evidence that it is not, why *assume* that 'they' were
right in the 18th and 19th centuries?
After all, the illusion that human societies in general -- and
technology in particular, which is an important aspect of human
society -- is under our control depends upon people's perception
that the rules of behavior that they are accustomed to are the
"natural" and/or "right" ways of doing things. So, perhaps it is
the accelerating pace of technological change that dispels the
illusion that we are in control of our societies. If so, this is
something we have been on the road to for quite a long while,
since technological change has been accelerating for the last 5
millenia at least.
People that imagine that they can stop all of our societies
from destroying irreplacable, essential systems in our material
environment by being just a little bit smarter, more cooperative,
better, wiser (etc., etc., and so forth), are, in one dimension of
the problem, entirely right, and in another dimension of the
problem, wildly wrong. Our technology is what we know how to
do, and so they are right: stopping it is not "out there", but "in
here", among us. Right technology is simply one facet of right
action. But changing what we know how to do is one of the hardest
things there is to do, and it never turns out the way we expect it
to, so they are wrong (assuming, of course, that they exist at
BTW: the only deep ecology dream I could dream at the spur of
the moment was pretty shallow: I walked to the local store, and
bought a cherry muesli bar. Cherries, after all, were in season.
I went back to work on the university computer, and that's all,
there is nothing else. To be specific: there was no garbage can
in the office to throw the wrapper "away", no hint of the notion
that there is an away to throw thing to, and, therefore no wrapper;
therefore no wholesaler; therefore no delivery truck; therefore
no big meusli bar factory; therefore no surprise that the person
who made them dropped them off on their way to Uni. Etcetera,
Etcetera, and so forth.
Bruce R. McFarling, Newcastle, NSW
 BTW, using all caps is *not* the only way to place emphasis on
what we write in these forums, and I want to underline that:
 And it's important to note that AFAIK these people have only
entered the discussion in the third person.