The Most Important Technological Advances

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Sunday, March 15, 2009 | Published in

(Note: Most of this was hashed out in a thread at that ended up getting sidetracked by bullshit. I thought I made some good points and didn't want it to completely go to waste so I'm going to repost it here with some added context)

The topic was brought up on what was the most important technological advance in mankind's history. It is a rather tough decision to make. Things like the wheel, fire, agriculture/domestication of animals, urbanization, art, organized religion, geometry, clockwork, and fermentation were all extremely important prehistorical discoveries. Humanity wouldn't exist without all of these things. There were only a handful of developments in the 1 - 1750 CE that I would consider earth shattering. Off the top of my head: empiricism/scientific method, the printing press, the telescope, the microscope, Newtonian physics/calculus, and gunpowder. The Dark Ages really did set us back a lot.

Meanwhile, the time from 1750 until today has given us huge leaps in technology. Atomic theory, evolution, quantum mechanics, theory of relativity, germ theory, and genetics were all fleshed out in this period. Plus we came up with inventions like the combustion engine, the light bulb, rockets, turbines, computers/the internet, digital watches, vaccines/antibiotics, the telegraph, telephone, radio, television... I feel like I could go on forever here.

However, if I had to pick one single technological advance that shines head and shoulders above everything else, I would have to pick: Language. That is the single greatest advancement humanity has ever made. None of the advances (except for a few) would have even been possible without language.

Language is what helps us spread knowledge and information to our tribe mates, our neighbors and future generations. Because of it mankind doesn't have to go through the learning process anew every generation. Our descendants will be able to build on the knowledge we have already amassed, add to it, and pass it to future generations. And some of the biggest leaps have been thanks to new ways to spreading information: written language, the printing press, the telegraph, the telephone, radio, television, the internet. Humanity would be not be humanity if we had never learned to communicate with one another.

(0) Comments

Leave a Response