Or is it something more? Curiosity may be a driver behind science: the desire to discover how the world works.
Technology, however, is not about understanding how the world works. Technology seeks to change how the world works. Technology seeks to “improve” our lives by making things quicker, easier, better (an ill-defined term if ever there was one), more comfortable.
How did we come to thinking that what the earth provides is insufficient? How did we decide that the world needs to be improved? How did we conclude that we (as human beings) needed to be “perfected”? In short, why do we wish to be unnatural?
Why is it that we want to reconstruct ourselves? What is wrong with us, as we are?
What is wrong with taking our lives at a slower pace? What is wrong with discomfort? What is wrong with nature, or our “natural” state?
Perhaps in our human evolutionary journey some technology was useful. Technological innovation allowed us to feed ourselves, shelter ourselves, and provide healing when we harmed ourselves.
But sometime (certainly since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in western cultures) we crossed beyond the bounds of useful technology and tipped into unnecessary and unhealthy technological development. Now, a few hundred years (a blink in the age of homo sapiens) later we are suffering the harmful consequences.
Our communication is quicker, almost instantaneous, yet our ability to understand and empathise with one another is deteriorating. We can travel from A to B without having to expend human energy, yet our obesity rates are skyrocketing, and fitness levels dropping alarmingly.
We can watch a TV show or a movie anywhere and anytime we like, yet we no longer participate in life’s magnificent opportunities. We can sit in a factory, a laboratory, or a boardroom for eight or more hours a day, yet we cannot find time to sit beneath a tree, or on a hillside to watch the sunrise or sunset.
Technology has taken us to the bottom of the oceans and out to the moon, yet our rates of depression, anxiety, and alienation show no signs of bottoming-out.
Technology has taught us that we can be in control of nature, and ourselves, yet we have not learnt to let go of the need to control.
How did we come to this wish to be unnatural? I am reminded Henry David Thoreau’s words, some one hundred years ago:
“Our inventions are wont to be pretty toys, which distract us from serious things. They are an improved means to an unimproved end.”