Is Technology part of Nature?

According to the dictionary one of the definitions of nature is: A creative and controlling force in the universe. When I think about nature I certainly think about all the plants and animals, the whole ecosystem on planet earth. But what about my mobile phone? Is my iPhone part of nature? Is it part of the ecosystem we life in?

Here a small story I made up to contemplate this silly question:

Once upon a time lived Roxie. An open minded, sensitive Swiss mountain fox. His favorite spot was an opening in the woods, covered by soft grass. In spring, before the trees had put on their robe of leaves, he would hide in the skirts of the forest to contemplate an impressive oak tree. To Roxie the tree represented the stability, beauty and power of the benevolent forces of nature.
But this spring everything seemed different. Dozens of birds hat started to build small and big nests in the tree. The once majestic tree had started to look like a huge building site. There was continuous activity. Even on the weekends the birds where chirping, hopping, fighting, picking, starting and landing. A deep sigh escaped Roxie’s lips: What would the world look like once the birds and their nest building technology, had spread across the whole forest, across the whole world?

What can we learn from Roxie? In what regards can we find parallels between bird nest technology and mobile phone technology?

First I would like to point out, that it is a very personal matter what we consider ourselves part of. Roxie does not consider the birds nests part of nature, because bird nests are not part of HIS nature.

Second, Roxie does not like change. At least not any change interfering with HIS way of life. He liked the relaxed evenings contemplating the majestic tree. Due to the noisy birds and bizarre nest architecture, peaceful contemplation is no longer possible.

Third, Roxie only sees the extremes. He thinks the birds are going to take over the world and suffocate every single tree with their nests. He does not see that everything is connected. That without trees the birds could not hide any longer, would be eaten by foxes and other animals. Over time, balance would be restored.

I’m an engineer. Technology is my bread and butter. I would like to believe that even mobile phone technology is part of nature. That as an engineer I am part of nature. That I can help creating technologies which help all of us to have better lives.

There is one key difference between the birds and us engineers. The birds might not have it as part of their DNA to contemplate the unhappy fox lying in the shadow of the tree. As human beings we have the gift to contemplate both short and long term impacts of our actions. We can show compassion towards the people around us and our ecosystem. If we do that, we can consciously choose the way we want to evolve.

It’s up to us. Change is inevitably. We are all part of nature.


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