Wednesday, December 10, 2008

page 1 (Introduction)

This paper is in the format of an interactive essay. It should be read much like the average interactive fiction (“choose your own adventure” book). You will be given choices and, depending on your preferences, can end up with one of several endings, much like a generic interactive fiction. The overall theme is technology, but this too can vary. Have fun (warning: do not take seriously. Paper contains small traces of humor).
To start, go to page 2
otherwise, mark paper down as 'A+' and move on

page 2

Technology is a broad concept that deals with a species' usage and knowledge of tools and crafts, and how it affects a species' ability to control and adapt to its environment. Basically, when used with proper intent, anything is technology. It has been around since the dawn of man and, depending on how you classify technology it has been around since the beginning of life.
If you think technology must be created with purpose, go to page 12
If you think biological systems can function as technology, go to page 3

page 3

Biologically speaking, technology was created long before humans even dreamed of using broken hunks of flint to butcher a kill. It is, however, a huge part of our nature, even if we weren’t the first to use it.
The relationship between technology and human nature is best viewed as simply a biological relationship. It is only possible through biological systems. Matter will not simply coalesce into technology. It is rather created through some process, whether it be intentional or by accident. However, it is the use of this creation that dictates whether it is true technology. If in a swirling mass of chemicals, ATP (adenosine triphosphate... arguably the most important molecule in any living system next to DNA) is created, it is not truly “technology” until it is used to power the various metabolic functions the cell requires. It is through biological systems like this and through the process of evolution that new chemical “technologies” and, eventually, physical technologies are created.
Technology is usually defined as the precise or knowledgeable use of any “tool,” and, in my opinion, it doesn’t matter whether that precision is learned or instinctual. The tool doesn’t necessarily need to be created with particular intent, but it typically is. After all, acquired characteristics of species were produced and fine-tuned over millions of years, so in a way, you could say that they were created with intent... otherwise, where would new species come from? I think Lyotard said it best:
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page 4

“Any material system is technological if it filters information useful to its survival, if it memorizes and processes that information and makes inferences based on the regulating effect of behavior, that is, if it intervenes on and impacts its environment so as to assure its perpetuation at least (Lyotard 12).” Every species uses its own evolutionary novelties as an ability to control and adapt to its environment. Take, for instance, the Aye-Aye, a pro-simian (monkey-like primate) from the jungles of Madagascar. It has developed a long spindly finger with which it collects ants and various other insects from holes in trees (Fleagle). It uses this specialized finger as a “tool” to get what it wants (dinner). Similarly, the deep sea Anglerfish uses its rod-like appendage to lure prey toward it, which are attracted to the pulsing light at the tip. It does this by moving its “rod” in much the same way a fly-fisherman uses his (same motion, same effect, same means to the same end… dinner). These are just a couple of an infinite number of examples of technology in nature. They arose out of evolutionary novelty and stuck around because they allowed their owners to control and adapt to its environment. They use their tools the same way we use ours. The only difference is that our “tool” allows us to create new technology without waiting for evolution to help us.
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page 5

Our brain is the greatest tool of all. We use it the same way animals use their tools… to get food and, once we have it, seek comfort, reproduce, and so forth. That is animal nature and, since we are animals, it is human nature as well. We use our master tool, “the brain,” as a means to acquire our basic needs (food, shelter, offspring) and once we have those basic needs met, we use our brain to meet our higher needs (mental, spiritual, emotional) as well. Thus, human nature could not exist without technology.
if you think we can, go to page 11
otherwise, continue to next page

page 6

Technology is used as an extension of any being, regardless of its biological or mechanical makeup. The simplest use of technology of course, is the biological use. All life is equipped with certain tools to manipulate and control its environment. It is equipped with the knowhow to properly and precisely use it. And, if it lacks one of these, it cannot continue living.
We as humans cannot control what nature has given to us. Most animals can do things that humans would never even dream possible with our bodies. Because of this, we as humans are envious of those animal characteristics we don’t have. As humans we listen to these emotions and do what we can to satiate them. The big difference is that we can use our brain to simulate other animal capabilities. But, like Lyotard said about creating consciousness, this is only a simulation (Lyotard 17-18). We can never actually “have” the characteristics of that animal or thing we are observing. We can only simulate it and to simulate is to live vicariously through something else; to live as if something were really happening even if it isn’t. If we want to fly like a bird, we create the technology to do so. If we want vision like a hawk, we create the technology to do so. If we want to further either one of these and be better than the animal, we fly farther or look deeper into space than anything before us.
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page 7

But our technology is merely a simulation of these traits that we long to acquire, but never will. We never will be able to run like a cheetah or dive hundreds of kilometers below sea level like a sperm whale. We can simulate it and use our technology as a crude extension of ourselves, but it will never truly be “us” that do these things. Our technology is merely an extension of ourselves as we try to emulate some other animal; I will never have the teeth of a wolf, but I can use a knife to kill my prey the same way the wolf uses its teeth.
War and violence are a big part of human nature. It’s that simple. There has never been a culture of completely peace-loving humans and, if they don’t fight each other, they have to kill other animals for food and resources (sinews, fur, leather, etc.). Violence has and will always be a part of our nature and will gradually worsen as our technology grows in complexity (it provides an increasing ability to do harm on an increasing scale as our technology improves). Taking this into account, it is only natural for the humans in “Sheep” (who now have the technology) to blow up the world like they did. That was not their goal, but it is also human nature to use your most efficient technology to do what you have to in order to survive ... including nuclear warfare.
to explore the idea of efficiency, go to page 8
otherwise, continue to page 9