Last night the topic of technology came up somehow and in the process of offering onechan a working definition ("technology is something people make to get something done") and examples ("a pencil is writing technology," "a crayon is drawing technology"), she not only came up with good examples of her own ("a toilet," "a computer," "a sink"), but also threw me for a loop with some others that I've taken the liberty of turning into questions for Blogoramaville:
1. Is food a technology? At first I was going to answer that the means of growing, raising, and preparing food were technologies, but food itself wasn't. But then I thought of the way corn (right?) was at first inedible in its naturally occurring varieties, and early humans in the Americas (right?) actually bred those varieties together and made it edible (where's Jared Diamond when you need him? oh yeah, in one of those boxes from Japan I never unpacked....). Then I thought of genetically engineered foods. So, Blogoramaville, what say ye? Is corn a technology? What about the genetically-engineered food itself (as opposed to the technologies used to make it)?
2. Are people a technology? I asked onechan how people get made, and she paused for a long time, and finally said, "Byoin." Once I got over my disappointment that she didn't come up with "aliens" and satisfaction that whatever Baptist training she got at her yochien didn't stick enough for her to answer "Kamisama" (God), I started thinking about her actual answer. Now, I might be willing to concede that hospitals are a people-making technology, in the senses they help babies get born and with the caveat that I didn't really want to get into exactly how people are made with her. But the idea that byoin make people threw me for a loop until I started wondering about genetic engineering again--in that sense, could people make people for certain purposes, and would those people then be technology? Now I've been thinking about human institutions like the family and slavery and the corporation.... Blogoramaville, what say ye?
Inquiring toddlers want to know!