29 Nov 2010
By Larry Sixsmith

Technology – savagery, barbarism and civilisation


Evolution is a funny thing, it has a control all of its own, or does it?

In my previous blog, Technology, addiction or evolution I asked if technology itself is addictive or is it the evolution of technology and the “newness” that creates the desire to have. So I thought I would go a little further on the evolution.

Many sociologists and anthropologists have created theories dealing with social and cultural evolutions and declare technological progress to be the primary factor driving the development of human civilization. One in particular Lewis H. Morgan, believed there were 3 major stages of social evolution, these being, savagery, barbarism and civilization.

Within these three it could be divided into technological milestones. Savagery was fire, the bow and arrow and pottery. Barbarism was the domestication of animals, agriculture and metalworking and the alphabet and writing was the civilization stage. All in all through many collective studies and historical records it had been agreed so far we are at the 11th stage of the technological evolution. These being:

photo of antique sundialAnd now we are in the 21st Century. While each stage of the technical evolution has changed the lives of the people and has led us to life as we know it today, in combining the industrial revolution, 19th, 20th and 21st centuries electronic technology has certainly evolved in leaps and bounds and is moving at a pace that seems to have its own momentum. From electricity, the light bulb, telephone and so on. Today technology has changed the way we communicate with each other; seek information and what we see on our screens.  Star Trek comes to mind here. In the show they had the capability to communicate through a wireless communicator and be able to transport from ship to other places by dematerializing and rematerializing.  In the 1960’s when this show was created it was unrealistic to communicate in this manner however not any more.  Keeping in mind, at this stage man is still working on molecular transportation.

I recently saw the movie HUBBLE at IMAX Melbourne in 3D and all I can say is it is mind boggling how far it took me into space.  The Hubble telescope was invented in the hope that man will discover how the universe started. From the very beginning evolution has worked its magic in shaping the way earth and all its inhabitants are today, albeit some creatures have not evolved in any way. Take the crocodile for example, it has remained un-changed for many millions of years.  On the other hand I think the sloth became confused somewhere in the evolution momentum. To me the Sloth has the appearance of a several animals, a couple of these being the monkey with the claws of a bear.

Technology moves far quicker than natural evolution and at times is hard to keep up with.  I only need to look at the mobile phone I purchased in January 2010 and already it has been preceded by eight models.  It is called a phone however I do wonder if that’s the correct name. The phone component appears to be a small part of what it is capable of doing.

Along with all technology, TV is rapidly evolving. A few years ago I predicted the TV would become the central HUB in the home and this is clearly happening. TVs now have NetCast that allows access to the internet, along with a USB cable from your laptop the TV becomes the monitor.  These are only two examples of the evolution of technology and I can only wonder what is next.

Me not being a tech-head and my thoughts some time ago about the TV being the HUB coming true got me thinking, does  the evolution of technology start with a thought, become a story and then invented or simply the natural strive of man is what runs the evolution of technology.

What do you think will be the 12th stage in the technological evolution?

And if man runs the evolution of technology, what runs the evolution of man?


Posts: 14


  1. mark ereira says:

    A very interesting subject, I believe that Humanity in order to live in a globolised community, will see growth rapidly, through technology that has brought with it the promise of a new dawn, in communicating, with the globolised family of humankind in terms of both distance between us lessened in travel terms, and with the advent of television that brings the world into the lounge room.
    But perhaps the faster internet highway, that has become an essential tool in all aspects of the information highway,the benefts are limitless and essential, no nation is any more an island to itself, and humanity cannot be like King Canute trying to hold back the tide of the future. Your statements regarding the TV empathise our progress we will talk through our tv , communicate with family, and the internet will have grown imeasurably allowing us to travel without leaving home.

  2. mark ereira says:

    What do you think will be the 12th stage in the technological evolution?

    And if man runs the evolution of technology, what runs the evolution of man?

    A globalised federation of nations, a world police force, and the use of space sattelites to enforce order, no nation on its own, will be able to enforce its own will, economic and otherwise. food production will become farming cities under cover providing growth beyond the climate conditions or pestulence.
    housing will see a prevalence of more highrise, and better use of space and utilities.

    I am hoping that civilization would have grown beyond the tribal need for self survival, and through education and globelisation humankind will respect the value of all life and dignity, beyond religeos and other fundamentalism

    Regards, Mark.

  3. Hi Larry, I love your blogs especially the one about the people walking around with earplugs/phones in listening to whatever it is they are listening to.
    Janine.xxxx I found you. See you soon.

  4. Robert More says:

    You talk of Savagery, Barbarism, and Civilization, under one heading: Technology. Are you saying that technology, and an understanding of technology leads to savagery, barbarism and civilization, or that savagery, barbarism, and civilization lead to technology?

    If this is the case, then what is the next step for us, the human race, or are we likely to step backwards through these steps, to a time when we will then step forward again, like a continuous pendulum motion, oscillating backwards and forwards, never ending the cycle.

    Look at the current situation(s) in the Middle East, and other hot-spots around the globe. Some would consider these places to be showing signs of technology, (as you have described it above), that is, savagery, barbarism and civilization. Indeed some of these places are the recognized birthplaces of the early civilizations of the modern world, and yet they still exhibit signs of savagery and barbarism.

    Civilization does not exist only because of the use of technology.

    Technology is a tool, or if you like, a suite of tools, that assists a “thing” to transform a situation into a further situation.

    This is a very important statement. It has three outcomes:

    • the first outcome is that tools are not used, and this does not change the situation;
    • the second outcome is that tools are used but the change to the situation, is worse, or
    • the third outcome is that the tools change the situation for a better outcome.

    Savagery and barbarism, are merely states of growth. Savagery and barbarism only occur in thinking, non-collective beings. They are measures of what is perceived to be a situation, where these beings perform in a manner that is not a norm for a civilization!

    From one of my dictionaries, a meaning of “savagery” is “being primitive or uncivilized”;
    while the same dictionary gives “barbarism” a meaning of “an absence of culture, and civilization”, and the same dictionary gives a meaning for “civilization” as “a stage of human social development that is considered most advanced”

    So how does any of this relate to Technology?

    My dictionary defines “technology” of being an application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, and the influence of these purposes on machinery and equipment.

    We are back to the pendulum, again.

    Initially we are savages (primitive and uncivilized) where we practice barbarism, and savagery, and then we become civilized. But we are not using technology to become civilized. No. Civilization only comes after the effect of “application x” (an unknown force), this relates in a way with leading social figures, in the sociological fields.

    But what is “x”? What turns us from being blood-thirsty, meat-chewing, dirty, lustful sloths, into the neat and tidy, prim and proper, people that we are today?

    Think about it?

    Have we changed at all?

    We are still blood-thirsty: Many people in many countries still walk around with guns, and some countries even license the ownership, under their constitutions as the right to bear arms.

    We still chew meat: we kill our meat, we skin the carcase, we cook it, and we eat it. Not all of us do it! Hey, I love a lamb chop, or a piece of steak.

    We are lustful: We are!

    Are we civilized?

    Sure, we can use tools, but are we really civilized?

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