“We become what we behold. We shape our tools, and thereafter our tools shape us.”
These immortal words belong to Marshall McLuhan’s contemporary, John M. Culkin, which describes our two-way relationship with tech. While we are the creators of technology like Facebook, artificial intelligence or even the telephone, which serve as a mirror of ourselves. We are in turn influenced by Siri, what our friends are doing on Facebook and what’s happening on the screens of our iPhones.
Two Peas in a Pod
The interknit human-tech relationship has existed since early humans learned to make tools. Our tools may not be wooden clubs anymore, but they are no less valuable to us. Technology is typically designed to improve our everyday lives — email, telephones, eyeglasses — through efficiency, enjoyment and empowerment. Our tools became our technology, opening up creative new ways for us to increase communication, have fun and increase our efficiency.
Technology can also entertain us. The best example is the Internet, which was originally developed for military purposes, but nowadays is a tool for consuming cat videos, streaming TV, shopping, free couches, food delivery and so much more.
The relationship is give-and-take. When pesticides are used, the crops are better and bigger, however, more pollution is created. Humans create technology without a clear understanding of where it could lead or how the results could be surprising.
Look up to the Stars
People are inspired by technology. Children grow up dreaming of designing video games, building computers and reading science fiction. Tech influences us from a young age; the modern worry is of one day being imprisoned by it, depending on the situational context.
To someone who grew up with horse and buggy, seeing a car would have been a marvel. It’s impossible to say whether tech moves faster today than in history; it has its own rhythms.