What Have You Done for Us Lately?
Technology is a favorite whipping-boy these days, and many who enjoy its benefits join in the outcry without for one moment letting go of those benefits.
We must understand what we mean by technology. As soon as human beings attempt to modify their environment to increase their comfort or pleasure by the use of anything other than their own unaided bodies, we have technology. The use of fire involved a series of technological advances. So did the use of clothing and of the simplest wood or stone tools. The lever, the wheel, the horseshoe, the magnetic compass, the printing press, and the clock are all examples of technology triumphant.
All right, say the technophobes (those who hate and fear technological advance), no one complains about those things. No one wants to go naked out into the world and scrabble to live with nothing but one's hands and feet. But what has technology done for us lately?
Shall we say the last two hundred years?
The coming of the Industrial Revolution lifted the burden of physical labor from the shoulders of humanity.In the pre-industrial world, 95 percent of the human race spent their short lives in unending digging, hauling, pushing, lifting-a way of life that was scarcely in any way different from that of the domestic animals they labored with.
The techniques of mass production made possible a supply of artifacts large enough to yield vast numbers of people serviceable material goods for their use, comfort, and amusement—houses, furnishings, dishes, tools, toys.
In less material ways, advancing technology made it possible to produce so much printed matter that mass literacy made sense, and for the first time vast numbers of people had an opportunity to participate in the intellectual