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Monday, May 19, 2014

On technology (Stephenson)

The presumption is that the world is static—and basically hospitable—until we do something and thereby disrupt it. Which I don’t agree with at all. We live in an environment almost all aspects of which were engineered by our ancestors. The continents of Australia and the Americas, when discovered by Europeans, had been made over by systematic hunting, burning and gardening over tens of thousands of years, and didn’t exist in anything like a pristine state of nature. We live, and have always lived, in a completely manufactured environment. All we’re left with is the ability to choose between different technological strategies. It’s incoherent to point at one thing and call it a technology in contradistinction to the [implicitly non-technological] status quo ante.

Neal Stephenson

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