Technology is a tool. It can be used for good or ill. The overarching intent of all my efforts is to try and understand the question of vitality by sculpting tools to elucidate these existential investigations. From the telescope to writing itself, technology can certainly help us explore. Of course, it has a dark side, as any technology can be employed to nefarious ends. But, even more subtle than the question of intent, technology has some intrinsic attributes that must be faced as we embrace it. I'll focus on three inter-related attributes, each with existential implications, to help set this investigation's context: Functional Over-coherence, Species Insulation and Entropy Maximization.
Technology, to date, is defined by its functional utility. We make tools for reasons, and if the tool does not perform that pre-established purpose, we consider it broken. However, as Greek tragedy points out, humans have a curious habit. As we put more effort into making tools for useful reasons, we double-down on believing past reasons for a tool will be relevant reasons in perpetuity. In other words, we create a positive feedback loop where the tool is made to perform some task useful to the human in a given context, and then we try to convince ourselves - even modifying our environment - to maintain the reason to maintain the tool. Often, this maintenance is in spite of a changing environment. Given our initial investment in and success of a tool, we tend to invert the logic, exhibiting hubris, to preserve a tool's fixed, if archaic, raison d'être.
This Functional Over-coherence necessitates insulating ourselves from our environment. We use ever more resources to mitigate the growing mismatch between our own dynamics and those in the larger open system. This insulation then allows us to cohere ever harder on the fabricated belief in stability, a belief animated by mechanistic metaphors of fixed functions and determinate outcomes. Ever increasing order and isolated efficiency is both the reward and its own cost. But, being a limited species, we lose track of all the costs we've externalized. We focus in, seeing only the benefits, while entropy accelerates beyond the horizon of our awareness.
This Species Insulation made possible by our technological insulation from change accelerates entropy production. Not only is there waste from making the originally useful tool, there's waste on top of that to maintain into the future an environment conducive to the utility for that original tool. This accelerates waste and risks rendering our species toxic to the wider biosphere, which, of course, renders us toxic to ourselves as Silent Spring foretells.
Some stabilization is healthy. However, as Heraclitus observed, one needs to change to remain the same, i.e. to be a river is for it to flow by definition. This is true for life ontologically. The dilemma is a "bird in the hand vs. two in the bush." Does a society focus on what works now, specializing, or does it diversify its capacities, generalize? Do we cohere on what is known or risk exploration into the unknown? Life is in the balance.