The Nature of Consciousness

Piero Scaruffi

(Copyright © 2013 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions )
Inquire about purchasing the book | Table of Contents | Annotated Bibliography | Class on Nature of Mind

These are excerpts and elaborations from my book "The Nature of Consciousness"

The Evolution of Technology

The US journalist Kevin Kelly points out that there is another evolution at work. Kelly draws drawing a parallel between organic life and the life of technology. More precisely, he compares the biosphere with the "technium", the set of all interconnected technologies collectively created by humans. He argues that the evolution of the technium is driven by forces that are similar to the ones that drive the evolution of life. He disagrees with Gould: biological evolution does have a direction. The direction is towards complexity. Kelly believes the same kind of law and direction is at work in the technium.

Technology is inevitable. Many inventions were "invented" at the same time by different people in different places: those people were just the practical vehicle that technology used to emerge; but it would have emerged anyway. Basically, technology parasites on human minds in order to survive, reproduce and evolve, just like memes do.

The supremacy of technology is becoming obvious: we depend on technology. Our extended phenotype (to use another biological concept) contains an increasing component of technology without which we would not survive.

However, the net effect of the growing complexity and diversity of technology is, in Kelly's opinion, positive. What technology "wants" is progress towards more and more freedom for us. The more technology we have, the more choices we have, and the more freedom we enjoy. Technology increases our free will. Technology, in fact, allows human genius to emerge and prosper. Without technology the human race would not have had Mozart and VanGogh.

Kelly even develops a sort of ethics for technology. A technology can never be bad just like an animal species cannot be bad: they are the product of evolution. It makes no sense to ask whether a species is good or bad. It makes no sense to ask whether a technology is good or bad. Kelly thinks that we have a duty to maximize technologies in society at large, i.e. to invent everything that can be invented, because technology gives us more freedom.

 


Back to the beginning of the chapter "The History of Language: Why We Speak" | Back to the index of all chapters