At the beginning of the Anthropocene, the issue is whether the extremely young technosphere overruns and conquers the biosphere or, by its example, learns how to constantly recycle material. This requires the important virtues of frugality and moderation in consumption because only by consuming less in the short term will we cause less waste. It is also important to improve the efficiency of equipment. This has its limits, however: when an oversized SUV uses five per cent less fuel and will be replaced by a new one within a short time, nothing is won. Besides, improvements in efficiency are often counterbalanced by more consumption: people just buy bigger models of energy-saving refrigerators, an outcome known as "rebound effect." To simply count on efficiency means, as Michael Braungart puts it, "to destroy the planet more slowly and more thoroughly." This follows the logic that, using the wrong technology, only wrong things can happen in the long term no matter how efficiently or frugally they are implemented.
Future technology has to consist of machines, materials and molecules that adapt to the biologic cycles of earth instead of perturbing them, and they have to enrich earth with life-enhancing stimuli instead of discharging poisons.
What is needed, therefore, is a different, new "nature of technology," an evolution whereby technology adapts to its environment. The more scientists reveal nature's inner mechanisms, the more primitive today's technology looks in comparison. Brian Arthur, the American technology theorist, sees natural mechanisms, materials and designs as role models for future technology: "Living things give us a glimpse of how far technology has yet to go. No engineering technology is remotely as complicated in its workings as the cell." Arthur sees the future of technology as "self-healing, self-configuring, cognitive," and "organic." ...[Continue reading on Reality Sandwich]