Every human being makes permanent use of technology. For example, technology is behind the letters you are reading right now. Even reading itself is a piece of technology. Technology is behind the display or the paper you are looking at. The chair you are sitting on and the clothes you wear exist thanks to technology.
Technology is the purposeful application of knowledge and skills
– design, development and usage of methods and tools –
for altering situations and circumstances.
For example, reading is a method which enables human beings to gain information. Clothes are tools for protecting or dressing human beings. And without chairs you would have to lie under or stand at your table. Hence, every piece of technology, every tool and method has a purpose to fulfill for assisting individuals in achieving personal goals. Consequently, the deliberate application of methods and tools is the key for assisting the global society in pursuing the goal of society (→ Values). Technology has the potential to coordinate the satisfaction of different needs within society for achieving individual and societal well-being.
Every form of life has the possibility of influencing its environment through technology to a certain extent. Every individual makes use of technology by applying and creating methods and tools out of their personal truth (→ Basic Understandings). For example, every bacterium, plant and animal uses its physical abilities for realizing ambitions like acquiring nutrition or defending itself against predators. We, human beings, use our brain as a tool for understanding our environment and for changing the world we live in. We build houses for protecting ourselves from the weather and varying changes in temperature. We develop recipes for capturing instructions in order to create tasty meals over and over again. We develop automates for realizing faster and more precise production processes. We use our voice as a tool for communication, like talking, singing or making sound expressions. Everybody makes permanent use of technology, everybody permanently applies, creates and develops methods and tools.
Technology is the link between an individual and the individual’s happiness and satisfaction, since methods and tools, and their combinations, can transform some state into another. They fulfill a purpose, realize an ambition, solve a problem, coordinate the satisfaction of an individual’s needs with those of others, or simply enable joyful moments. Technology, as the way for achieving personal and thus societal well-being through expanding everybody’s scope of liberty as widely as possible, enables the global society to create a world in peace, health and cultural diversity full of love and inspiration.
Technology alters situations and circumstances. Consequently, the better an individual understands their environment, the better developed methods and tools may harmonize with their environment. Every individual is connected with every other individual through the symbiotic nature of the ecosystem and societal bonds (→ Basic Understandings). Thus, an individual’s technology not only changes the individual’s environment but also changes life situations and environmental circumstances for other individuals. In order to prevent conflicts from arising, an individual’s technology should not collide with the ambitions of any other individual. Technology should not prevent anybody from realizing personal goals. For example, technology should not have negative impacts on any individual’s health. Therefore, in order to sustain a peaceful atmosphere, methods and tools should be designed to function in ways which harmonize with everybody’s ambitions. To be able to accomplish that, the global society should strive to understand its environment as holistically as possible.
Technology should be based on
the deliberate application of the Scientific Method.
At the beginning of the development of methods and tools, or their combination, stands the design phase. This phase evolves around thinking about what purpose a resulting method or tool should fulfill, and how it should fulfill its purpose. Design phases are intended to create an optimal outcome. Thus, applying the Scientific Method, design phases should be based on effective, satisfying communication and research. The design phase of methods and tools should interact greatly with every discipline they might stand in contact with for understanding their scope of application as thoroughly as possible. Within design phases, the global society should care for as many individual needs as possible in advance, for not hindering single individuals in their pursuit of happiness and fulfillment when applying the developed method or tool. The deliberate application of the Scientific Method enables the global society to develop methods and tools that respect societal and environmental requirements, like those of the Earth’s ecosystem (→ The Scientific Method).
Pieces of technology which are seen to damage environmental processes or seen as a barrier for single individuals who endeavor to realize personal goals, need to be modified or replaced by alternatives, which serve the same purpose without causing damage. Therefore, the global society should permanently question, rethink and redesign its technology in order to always apply the most effective, most harmonizing methods and tools possible.
In the following section we present design guidelines that assist the global society in developing pieces of technology for most effectively pursuing the goal of society. These design guidelines might assist everyone in developing methods and tools which respect and enrich natural and societal environments:
A tool’s or method’s purpose should be questioned and understood
as thoroughly as possible.
When designing methods and tools, their purposes and their scopes of application should be understood as entirely as possible. Designers should answer the following questions: What is the method’s or tool’s purpose? Are there alternatives for fulfilling this purpose? In which ways will it influence its environment? Will the method or tool as well as any related piece of technology for production, service and disassembly harmonize with their environment? Who will use it?
Understanding everything about and around a piece of technology as completely as possible enables designers, users and finally the whole global society to create and apply intuitive, safe, healthy, sustainable and robust methods and tools which bring joy when using them.
Example: You want a picture on your wall. Thus, you need a form of technology that serves this purpose. This can be a combination of a screw, a screw anchor, a screw driver, an electric drill, a socket, your skills and a concept of how to apply these things.
Alternatively, you could use some glue strips or a magnetic picture frame, provided magnetic picture frames will stick to your wall. Maybe, thanks to integrated light emitting elements, your wallpaper can display graphics anywhere in your home.
However, would the picture annoy anybody who lives with you? Will the chosen technology damage the wall? Will you preserve sufficient resources for realizing other projects you plan to bring to life?
If you consider all these questions, you might tinker more goal-orientated and thus more effective. Eventually, you might enjoy your handiwork much longer, and maybe you are enabled to remove it in simple ways, once it does not please you anymore.
An example concerning a situation in our contemporary society: You want to produce mobile phones in a factory with little automation. The production flow is highly optimized in regard to the assembly rate and thus requires a huge workforce. Hence, how well have you considered and designed the working conditions and the environment for your employees? Have you created an environment that pleases them? Do they receive enough daylight? Do they have enough breaks? Do they have the chance to talk with each other or adequate management to address problems?
Your employees are closest to the assembly process. Are they enabled and encouraged to develop and implement further optimization processes? Optimized working conditions, environments and atmospheres may increase the quality of products since everybody is motivated and able to concentrate on each step of assembly.
Does the factory building harmonize with its environment? For example, may it be useful to cover the roof with top soil and vegetation, since this coverage might protect the factory’s roof from UV damage while offering living space to the surrounding nature? Have you considered covering surfaces with the creations of local artists to make your factory eye-catching? Finally, do you understand the factory as an isolated place where nobody likes to stay or as an integrated part of the local community?
The factory in its entirety is a piece of technology. In fact, a factory is best equipped for effective production when optimally harmonizing with its societal and natural environment.
Methods and tools should be easy to use.
Methods and tools should be adaptable to individual needs.
Knowledge and instructions about technology
should be easy to understand.
The easier an individual can handle a tool or a method, the more effective he or she can realize personal ambitions. The better a form of technology matches an individual’s idea of how it should serve its purpose, the less it frustrates the individual and the more it supports the individual’s motivation. Therefore, methods and tools should be designed for safe and intuitive application as far as possible.
Since every human being is different, there are many different ideas of how pieces of technology might function or what they might be like. For example, there are some who prefer to use a screw driver with their left hand, and others that like using it with their right hand. Some like fully configurable SLR cameras, others like light-weight pocket cams. Some like to wear green sport shoes with shoelaces, others like wearing red ones with a hook-and-loop fastener. Hence, methods and tools should be adaptable to individual needs and purposes. It is a joy to use methods and tools that simply serve the purpose they are designed to serve.
For the same reasons, knowledge and instructions about methods or tools should be easy to understand in order to enable users to easily and effectively advance their skills (→ Education).
Methods and tools should be resource efficient.
Material and energy resources
should be used in accordance with regeneration periods.
Tools should last as long as possible.
Tools should be upgradeable.
Tools should be designed for recycling.
Material and energy resources appear to be limited. The less we use of a given resource, the more we preserve for the realization of further projects. Using less resources also makes us more flexible in case of resource shortages (e.g. due to natural catastrophes). Consequently, technology should use as few resources as possible while achieving the most effective outcome possible.
The material and energy resources that we use, should be predominately fast-renewable resources. Fast-renewable resources are resources which regenerate within short time intervals like sunlight, wood, hemp and cotton. To assure a sustainable use of resources, regeneration periods of resources should be taken into account. The rate of material and energy consumption should be lower than the rate of material and energy regeneration in order to not overuse or exploit resources.
Additionally, since manufacturing processes themselves require energy and materials, tools should be designed to last and flawlessly function as long as possible. Long lasting tools, that fulfill their stated purposes as expected without breaking, do not need to be replaced. This approach preserves resources, since it decreases the need to produce replacements of broken tools.
Design processes should furthermore provide the possibility to upgrade tools by exchanging outdated or defect parts. For example, in the domain of computer technology, devices should be updateable through replacing only the outdated parts of the hardware, or simply the software, instead of a whole computer system.
In contrast to fast-renewable resources, slow-renewable resources like fossil-fuels, metals and diamonds, should be used in a manner that allows their reuse. Hence, tools should be designed for recycling. Therefore, every design phase should consider easy and effective disassembly of tools. In case a tool breaks or becomes obsolete, it should be possible to easily extract its materials. The recycling of materials is necessary for establishing closed resource cycles. Everything we use, should either fit into natural resource cycles or stay within our resource cycles.
All these approaches, that we would like to outline as Efficiency Approach, assist humanity in creating an abundance of resources in order that the maximum range of possibilities is available to everyone (→ Handling Resource Scarcity).
As mentioned above, every piece of technology fulfills a purpose. Technology assists human beings in satisfying their needs or in achieving their personal goals. Thus, technology can be used to create circumstances that encourage the establishing of values which assist society in pursuing the goal of society (→ Values).
Therefore, methods and tools should be available to everybody for optimally assisting every human being. Consequently, the global society requires a system which coordinates methods and tools among humans. The societal economic system should fulfill this purpose (→ Handling Resource Scarcity).
— A short comparison with our contemporary society (2012) —
The contemporary global society does not seem to be aware of technology as the purposeful application of knowledge for altering situations and circumstances. We, the global society, seem to be unaware that we permanently shape situations, circumstances and thus our environment by applying methods and tools. The global society seems not to be aware of the possibilities we have for expanding everybody’s scope of liberty through making use of technology deliberately.
Today, the global society has a very static perspective on technology. The global society indeed has a feeling for existing methods and tools and their modes of functioning, but not a feeling for technology’s giant range of possibilities that continuously expands through research and ingenuity. Many people tend to see a particular piece of technology as the only solution for fulfilling a particular purpose or for solving a particular problem. From an individual’s perspective, a comfortable way to fulfill a particular need or solve a particular problem, may lie in holding on to a particular form of technology rather than examining the problem or need she or he is facing. However, there may exist much more effective technological opportunities to satisfy the individual’s needs.
For example, many people say “I absolutely need a vacuum cleaner!”. A vacuum cleaner’s main purpose is to eliminate dust. Thus, the demand for a vacuum cleaner derives from the need for a clean home. Hence, it could be useful to consider the following questions: Where does dust come from? Is dust useful in any way? Do I always need a vacuum cleaner or just at those times when I want to use it? Are there reasons for the appearance of dust and are there ways of eliminating these reasons? Do I need a vacuum cleaner at all, or do I alternatively need a system that establishes a slight fall of air pressure towards the outer areas of my rooms in combination with slightly electro static surfaces for easing dust filtering?
Obviously, there are many ways to think about a particular problem and related technology. There are many different ways to satisfy a particular need, many different methods and tools to solve a particular problem. By questioning application scopes as thoroughly as possible and by considering technology from as many perspectives as possible, the global society should establish a holistic feeling for the possibilities technology provides us, rather than clinging to static perspectives which may counteract the goal of society.
Today, there are methods and tools which create serious problems and conflicts. Certainly, many people fear those pieces of technology. Thus, a basic question appears: Is technology one of the reasons for our problems?
On one hand, there are pieces of technology that are created for diminishing symptoms of profound problems. These pieces of technology often have negative impacts, while not erasing the root causes of problems. The atomic bomb, for example, was designed for protecting populations by devastating other populations in turn. Many nations use it to impress or menace other nations. However, the detonation of an atomic bomb has very destructive consequences and does not solve problems. It was not designed for understanding conflicts and finding solutions. No weapon was designed for harmonizing with its environment. Hence, problems that result from harmful and hostile pieces of technology may disappear once the assumed necessity for those pieces of technology disappears. For example, for reducing the appearance of conflicts which bring us to the assumption that we need an atomic bomb, we could endeavor for global cooperation for coordinating different needs of different human beings within the global society (→ The Scientific Method). If the demand for a certain method or tool disappears, the problems that result from the application or existence of that method or tool disappear.
On the other hand, technological problems derive from the way tools are created, or how pieces of technology fulfill their purposes. For example, contemporary production processes of technical devices often exploit employees, manufacture toxic materials and cause huge environmental damages. In contrast, photography for example is an interest many people like to pursue. Hence, methods or tools we are not satisfied with – for example production processes of cameras – should be permanently improved or replaced by alternatives. Any tool, including its production, application and recycling, should harmonize with its environment as far as possible while fulfilling its purpose as effectively as possible. In the long run, this approach will diminish the appearance of problems that occur when producing, applying and disassembling pieces of technology.
With regards to tools, the global society seems to be unaware of the apparent finiteness of material resources. Tools (e.g. machines, clothes, buildings, etc.) are rarely designed for a long life or recycling processes. Enforced by incentives within the contemporary economic system, such as the necessity of sustaining cyclical consumption, tools break early and end up on waste dumps due to planned obsolescence, inherent in their design. Today, there are a myriad of problems with collecting, managing and abolishing waste.
The principle of waste will prove inefficient in the long run. Every production process which creates tools society can neither reuse nor recycle also creates a problem, since the used materials become unusable for further design processes. Additionally, once those tools have arrived on waste dumps, their chemicals and toxics migrate into the natural top soil and disturb natural cycles. Today, the oceans are full of plastic waste. CFC gases damage the Earth’s ozone layer. Furthermore, our most used tools for generating energy, like nuclear power plants or oil platforms, can result in huge environmental hazards. We make our ecosystem sick, and thus ourselves, despite solutions for increasing technological harmony with the Earth’s ecosystem being available.
The global society should concentrate on the establishment of fully closed resource cycles for preserving as many resources as possible for satisfying the needs of as many individuals as possible while caring for the Earth’s ecosystem which constitutes the foundation for all life on Earth.
Furthermore, due to profit orientation and maximization, the global society tends to favor inefficient and ineffective pieces of technology while overusing existing capacities provided by the Earth’s ecosystem.
For example, although many human beings complain about the way we distribute food among the globe, major companies appear to produce genetically modified plants, which generate seeds that are not as reproductive as their parent generation, on an increasingly wide scale. And this is done, even though non-modified, traditionally cultivated plants do produce fertile seed. Additionally, many so-called “developed” countries waste a lot of fresh food instead of distributing it to other countries. But it does not seem that there are insufficient distribution capacities, since, before being consumed in the western world and northern hemisphere, food is carried several times between continents. This is a bizarre situation. Obviously, these are all ineffective methods of feeding the world. They are only effective from a monetary point of view. Consequently, the contemporary economic system is unable to organize resource distribution for creating resource abundance and access abundance (→ Handling Resource Scarcity).
Nature provides a lot of methods and tools we should consider for fulfilling our needs. Therefore, we need to understand things like natural resource cycles for not exploiting and damaging them.
Methods and tools are not necessarily exclusively created by human beings. Technology is something that assists individuals in achieving personal goals and in establishing well-being. Hence, the global society should consider methods and tools that have emerged from every source across the planet when looking for solutions.
One of the major problems, that human beings who design methods and tools face today, are patent and copyright systems. Due to the fact that nearly everybody in the global society has to maintain their established standard of living through always having a satisfactory income, individuals and companies require others to pay for their ideas or concepts. Hence, ideas or concepts are most likely to be published within the frame of patent and copyright systems. In other cases, those ideas or concepts are not officially published at all and therefore remain secrets. Thus, although a necessary method or tool with the potential to assist human beings in achieving their personal goals exists, people might not be able to use it, since the existence of these methods or tools was not published, their usage is prohibited or they are simply untraceable. In consequence, those individuals must wait or look for other, often less effective and resource-efficient, maybe even destructive ways for realizing their ideas (→ Human Behavior).
The current patent and copyright system hinders the exchange of information, experiences and knowledge. This complicates the design of methods and tools. We reinvent the wheel over and over again, every day, rather than advancing existing methods and tools. Therefore, we have to use pieces of technology that are not as good as they could be.
The global society should endeavor to eliminate reasons for holding back ideas and concepts in order to establish a free flow of information for exchanging experiences and knowledge. On this basis, the global society would be able to create and use methods and tools which fulfill quality criteria like high performance and ecological friendliness as widely as possible.
To this end, we, the global society, have a myriad of ideas and technological possibilities for establishing a world in which everybody can find happiness and fulfillment. The problem lies in the way we use and organize technology without endeavoring to holistically understand the ways in which our methods and tools impact on and are interconnected with the environment we live in. We have established an economic system that prevents us from exchanging knowledge and information while giving incentives for designing tools which wear out after short periods, without considering whether they can be recycled. This situation is something we need to change, if we want to live in a world which provides sustainable solutions in a healthy environment.
However, as a very basis upon which we can build, it is most important to understand that we need to establish open-minded communication within the global society for considering every idea, need and doubt when designing methods and tools (→ The Scientific Method).
—– Myths and Opinions —–
In our lectures and conversations about society we established a collection of Myths and Opinions that have crossed our way most frequently. Some of these statements are widely spread amongst the people in this world. We would like to give you some thought provoking impulses concerning some of the Myths and Opinions of our collection.
“The amount of resources on the planet is insufficient
in order to fulfill the desires of all humans.”
If you ever hear this opinion expressed, please, ask the person about the extensive surveys of the Earth’s resources and the collection of information about all known methods and tools and their combination possibilities, and make sure you get access to the database of all human needs and desires that this person refers to.
We, the authors, do not know of the existence of any world wide extensive survey of all the Earth’s resources, or any survey, or database that collects, manages and provides all information about all known pieces of technology and their combination possibilities in order to extract and use these resources. Furthermore, we do not know of any pool of records showing different needs, wishes and desires of all humans. Considering this lack of knowledge and information, we think that it is simply not possible to draw conclusions on which desires we can fulfill with what kind of technology.
Hence, if anyone wants to talk about humanity being able to fulfill needs, wishes and desires it is most practical to focus on what we know that we can and could do with what we know of. Making assumptions about something NOT being possible actually means: “It is not possible with the knowledge of that particular person at that particular time.” If people talk about things not being possible, it usually is due to their lack of knowledge of how to make it possible, rather than due to it really being impossible to accomplish. Even though that knowledge may not be widespread, it is always possible that one can find, someone will find, or has already found ways to make it possible. Usually, the perception that something is not possible is rooted in the absence of the ability to perceive ways how to make it possible. That is why we should never waste our time thinking about what is not possible, but rather use our time wisely to research how to make something possible. It might just be our lack of knowledge and skills that makes it seem impossible to accomplish to us.
Finally, the more efficient our technology uses and handles the resources that are available to us, the closer we get to effectively satisfying everyone’s needs. We, the authors, see huge potential in developing resource-efficient technology, as there are a myriad of ideas and concepts of how to create high-performing, sustainable, easy-to-use and environmentally friendly pieces of technology. Only by establishing societal cooperation through open-minded, non-violent communication as a basis can potentials be freed within society (→ The Scientific Method). Without this kind of organizational foundation, the level of resource efficiency will remain as low as it is today.
“Technology cannot be the solution.
Technology is the source of most problems in today’s world.”
One can use technology in different ways. Just like a hammer: one can use a hammer to put nails into planks of wood to construct a house, or one can use a hammer to kill a person by hitting her or him over the head.
The problem usually evolves around: what kind of methods or tools do we create and use for what purposes? Purposes and motives for the creation and usage of methods and tools are derived from basic understandings. So the question is rather: what kind of basic understandings make up the foundation of the purposes and motives that determine the creation and usage of a problem-creating piece of technology? And furthermore: are these basic understandings derived from open-minded research and communication (→ The Scientific Method) or from blindly clinging to prejudice, fear and convictions?
Hence, as long as we consider technology itself as a source of problems, we, the global society, should intensify communication and research for finding out why particular pieces of technology create problems. That involves holistically questioning the scope of application of these pieces of technology as well as questioning the purposes for which they were created and are used. And that furthermore means questioning our understandings in order to intensify and broaden them.
If technology is used in order to coordinate the realization of individual goals, it can enable the global society to get much closer to the realization of the goal of society (→ Values). Technology should function for us, not against us
Further inspirational information and research material is available on our link pages (→ Links about Technology).