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Buy 2 or more classes at the same time and save 25% off the total.

What Technology Means: Reinventing Humanity

Save 25% when purchasing this with other classes from this Fall's semester.


Instructor: Nelson Kellogg
Mondays, January 8 – 29, 3:00 – 5:00 PM, Berger Center
4-week session.

Course Details:
This class investigates the past, present and future human experience in light of the tools and processes we have invented like money, bookkeeping, agriculture, time, transportation, medicine and now, Ai. How have these inventions changed what we do, who we are, our sense of community, our relationships and our sense of purpose.

Course Details:
When asked about technology, do you think of new computers, smart phones, the latest developments in medicine or transportation? That’s a normal response today. But when we consider the word “technology” as derived from the word “technique,” we realize that any device or even process for doing a task is a technology. And, historically, any new technique affects what we do (for a living) and therefore who we are. Certainly, new A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) platforms will change us. Will these changes be more profound than the historical invention of…Money? Bookkeeping? Agriculture? Mechanical Time? We will examine all these and more, as we attempt to understand what sort of creatures we have been, and who we might become.

Week 1: Topics and considerations:
1. What is “technology” anyway. Often confused with simply what is new, for example the latest smart phone or medical technique, technology is rooted in the word “technique.” That is, it is simply a way of doing something.

  1. Examples of early (5000 or so years ago) human inventions that constitute technologies:
  2. Money
    b. Bookkeeping, which requires the invention of writing and early arithmetic
    c. Planting of seeds, and the introduction of hand tools, field enclosures, irrigation
  3. Discuss: what sorts of changes to human activity and relationships do these early techniques bring with them, as contrasted with nomadic, hunter-gatherer societies? Humanity gained much, including the origins of cities, government, politics, etc. But what was lost?

Week 2: The invention and reinvention of the concept of time:

  1. Before the invention of the mechanical clock, how did humans measure and relate to the passage of time?

Annual (seasonal) patterns; daily rhythms; life cycles. There were sundials, hour glasses, and even water clocks and hour candles, but where were these used?

  1. What were the first mechanical clocks used for? Origins and placement in religious settings: what was the purpose?
  2. How and when did clocks infiltrate and redefine business in the Middle Ages and Renaissance?
  3. Mechanical time becomes ubiquitous: revolution in maritime travels; the invention of factory work and “timed work for pay” (think: time clock and the modern concept of efficiency),
    and the assembly line. The culture of consumerism.

Week 3: From the manufacture of material goods to symbolic work.
1. The proliferation of goods leads to the development of marketing and advertising.

  1. What is the relationship between what most modern workers do (symbolic) and what is sold as value?
  2. What is the future of symbolic work with the advent of Artificial Intelligence?

Instructor Biography:
Nelson “Buzz” Kellogg has a lifelong interest in the history and effects of technology, especially how it has formed human social evolution. He has published and lectured in this field, in public philosophy generally. He is an energetic and engaging presenter who invites his audiences into conversations about topics that are meaningful to them, inspired by the presentations.