There are three building blocks to understanding technology as a concept. #1 is that tech = creation. #2 is that we build it to pursue our lives outside our biology. And #3 is that it shapes us deeply as humans.
There's no bigger concept to our times than technology.
But, what is technology? If we're asking questions concerning technology, what are they concerning? When is something technology - and can we ever stop calling it that? When are bad things technology's fault, as opposed to the person who uses it? Think about it for longer than a minute, and you realise it’s a tricky concept to pin down. All the more reason for us to get to grips with it.
Here's my take:
Technology is creation that furthers our pursuit of life, and shapes our understanding of the world.
Woah, there’s a lot to unpack there. I try to take theories from big thinkers, and make them usable and simple. Let's go through the three parts step by step:
We start in Silicon Valley. Specifically with ‘Zero to One: Notes for Startups’ by Peter Thiel, one of the Valley's most influential founders and investors. In it, he says the single word for vertical, 0 to 1 progress, is technology.
Technology is going from 0 to 1 - building new things. In other words, creation.
In Thiel's words, these acts of creation - technology - are miracles because they let us do more with less. And Thiel contrasts technology (going from 0 to 1, or vertically) with globalisation (going from 1 to 100+, or horizontally). Moving from horse and cart to car is technology, then building it 100 times in a factory is globalisation.
And this ability to create new things isn't automatic. There have been times in history - like the Dark Ages in Europe - where people haven't created anything.