Frederick Douglass Essay

Submitted By RyanSchul1
Words: 649
Pages: 3

In Technology: A World History, Daniel Headrick demonstrates the potential and peril of technological progress in human societies from prehistoric Stone Age times moving forward to modern history. The main themes concern the impact of technology on our day to day life and culture, the ability of technology to divide society between the poor and the wealthy classes and finally, the potential threats to the environment. Has all the achievement created progress or has it also moved humanity backwards? The author cites examples from early generations of farmers whose excavated bones were shorter, less developed, and more exposed to diseases compared to their hunter-gatherer ancestors. Further evidence was found with Ice Man in the Alps, where marks on his shoulder bones show that he was killed by a wound from an arrowhead. He was dressed in warm leather clothing that enabled him to live in the harsh mountain climate, but ironically the technological advancement of his generation resulted in his early death.

The author focuses on the fact that “Humans are not the only creatures that use tools;... Only humans, however, could not survive without tools, and only humans have in turn been shaped by the tools they use” (p.1). He supports this argument with an analysis comparing the modern human brain with the prehistoric human brain and argues that although they are similar, we have been shaped by our tools and technology. “...if one of them reappeared on earth and sat on a bus seat next to us, we would think it was just another passenger.” (p.3), yet we are very different as we’ve been shaped by our technology throughout thousands of years.

Another powerful argument is made about the fact that technology has historically depended on geography, climate and the types of animals available for hunting and domestication. However, it has often been used by elites and the educated to distinguish themselves from the poor and uneducated and for exploiting others. From the pyramids in Egypt built for pharaohs of the time, to the invention of writing by Sumerians which “became a way for distinguishing the literate elite from the rest of the population” (p.34), technology has been abused by the elites. This is directly a result of “civilization” where not everyone needs to help provide food and therefore people can perform work other than hunting, farming or herding, and can instead focus on other tasks. This means that that farmers also had to protect their fertile land close to the river, therefore they needed weapons and barriers to protect their…