MOLECULAR MACHINES AND SOCIAL TRANSFORMATION
IN THE 21st CENTURY
By Ed Merta
Health Sciences Center Library
University of New Mexico
Note: the views in this paper are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the University of New Mexico or the UNM Health Sciences Center Libary
I. Things to Come: Technology in the 21st Century
It began long ago on the windswept plains of an Earth no one will see again. Sometime within the last 150,000 years, modern humans first evolved and technology as we know it arose shortly thereafter. The two events are inseparable. The earliest Homo sapiens were different than the apes who came before. Their large, sophisticated brains and their ability for conscious thought set them apart and made them our kin. Blood of our blood, flesh of our flesh. In their brains lurked the potential to comprehend the world around them to an unprecedented degree, discern its inner mechanisms, and manipulate nature to serve human ends. Our earliest ancestors, however strange their primitive existence may seem to us, nevertheless had minds built by natural selection to make technology.
The environment they lived in forced them to develop that potential. The existence and progress of technology were, as a result, inevitable. Wind, sun, cold, and rain drove the earliest humans to start fires and build homes. The threat of starvation drove them to plant crops and tame the other animals. Fear of their own kind compelled them to make weapons. The pressure of their growing numbers herded them into cities. The flourishing of cities led to roads linking the urban centers together. The wealth accumulating in the cities and their trade spurred the growth of record keeping, literacy, and science. Science yielded new tools to understand and manipulate nature. These tools led to still more knowledge and more tools, in a spiral of technological progress leading ever upward,... [continues]
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