Learning Tech: Modern understanding of technology
To understand and clarify the essence of technology, it is appropriate to trace the history of its formation and the main stages of its development. The problem of the origin of technology is quite complex; there are different concepts about this matter.
The origin of technology
One concept sees the origin of technology as a result of purposeful human activity and the need for a rational use of the means of this activity. Another concept of the emergence of technology was offered by O. Spengler. Technology, in his opinion, comes from joint activity of large masses of people and is a way of organizing this activity. Therefore, technology should not be considered as a set of tools, but as a way of handling them, that is, practically as a technology in itself.
An interesting concept of the origin of technology was offered by L. Mumford, who believes that gun and machine technology are products of biotechnology. By “biotechnology” is meant everything that a human needs for life. Technology comes from features of human function and is closely related to the origin of man in its origin. It was first of all life-oriented, and only then work-oriented. Technology, aimed at production and power, arose much later, according to L. Mumford.
Another original technology concept was put forward by the scientist B. Porshnev. He believed that technology arises as a result of the impersonal qualities of human adaptation to the world. So, instead of teeth and claws, a person is forced to use stones and sticks, which are considered intermediates: prototypes of modern technical devices. It seems that this version deserves special attention.
The main reason for the emergence of technology lies in man’s desire to overcome the limitations of his nature and organization, to increase the impact of his natural organs on the substance and forces of nature. In other words, the contradiction between man’s physical organization and the need to transform nature to produce the material goods required for his existence and development has become the main source, the motivating force that determined human activity to create the first, primitive, archaic technology. The whole point of the further development of technology lies in the fact that people intensify their influence on nature and consistently transfer a number of work functions to technical devices. The following points are important for the philosophy of technology.
Periods of technological development
1. The era of manual technology
In this era, the main tools were manual labor—tools that continued and expanded the capabilities of the natural human organs and strengthened them physically, while the work was manual in nature. The main functions of production were regulated by the subject and their skilled workforce.
2. The stage of mechanization and machines
In this phase, the main force of production is machines, and man becomes the appendage, with many work functions transferred to machines. The work here is already mechanized. It is during this period that technogenic civilization and industrial society are formed.
3. The era of automation
This began approximately in the second half of the twentieth century. Here, the machines take a person out of direct production, so to speak, and fully or partially replace a person in terms of active participation in production. The worker in this case acts as an organizer, controller and “leader”, and it is not the physical abilities, but the strength of intellect, technical abilities and knowledge, their cultural and technical contributions that become important. It is obvious that the work here is automated.
It should be noted that computer technology is also usually considered a type of machine. Probably, it is still more correct to consider it as a relatively independent type of technology that opens the fourth stage of technical development, involving a whole technical, technological and information revolution.
L. Mumford, already mentioned above, believes that the beginning of the second millennium of our era can be considered the starting point of modern and not ancient technology. Based on the experiences of European history, he identifies three possible technological divisions for the era:
- The Technical Era (1000-1750)
Based on the technology “water and wood.”
- The paleo-technical era (second half of the 18th century to the middle of the 20th century)
Based on the “coal and iron” complex.
- The Neo-Technical Era (Continuing Now)
Uses the “electricity and alloys” complex.
As you can see, periodization is based on the main type of energy used in technology and the “substance” that occupies a central place in the creation of technical devices.