Science has always been technoscience
Don Ihde (Stony Brook University)
Saturday 3 September, 9:00-10:45 (UTC+0)

Short abstract:

If science recognizes natural regularities, then it’s ancient and a technoscience with perceptual and inscription technologies.

Long abstract:

Knowledge of natural regularities, sometimes closely linked to human survival, sometimes less so linked, have been characteristic of human societies at least since the Ice Ages. Celestial observations of phenomena such as lunar and solar cycles, calendar counts, solstice timing, is very ancient and widespread. But to achieve this, minimally two types of instruments or technologies are required. First, some type of “standardizing” of observation is needed—gnomen, stony rings, sighting devices, all of which may be found globally millennia ago—and some recording inscription, such as reindeer antlers, stone inscriptions, etc. to preserve knowledge was needed. Thus scientific knowledge plus technologies, technoscience, lies far back in time and is widely distributed.

Revolutions in such technosciences are often marked by instrumental revolutions such as optics for early modern science, the move beyond perceptual imaging with the electromagnetic spectrum, and today’s digital revolutions. However, unlike earlier highly multiculatural technoscience, where breakthrough s such as sunspots and their cycles in ancient China, or superior calendar machines with the ancient Maya, with more modern complex and expensive Big Science technologies, scientific knowledge production can become more restrictive, i.e., to those networks which can afford supercolliders, plasma smashers and the like.

In short, this perspective upon the evolution of technoscience inverts the usual standard view of modernism which holds that science was a cultural invention of the West which spread its dominance globally. Rather, the dominance now existant is a result of the growing power of complex technoscience networks not yet available to less developed areas of the globe. Hopeful, however, are the micro technologies such as ITC, biotech and other leapfrog technologies which can be successfully introduced to less developed areas.