A number of examples can be put forward in defense of the thesis that technologies do change cultures. A commonly cited example is the printing press. When invented in Europe, the printing press caused the widespread availability of books and learning, sparking the Reformation, Counter-Reformation, and the early modern age. Another example is the clock, which was originally developed by monks for the purpose of punctually following the canonical hours of their liturgy. But this technology eventually led to factory workers following regimented working hours and produced modern capitalism.
In contrast, the neutral view would see this account as a misinterpretation of these events. Both the printing press and the clock were invented in China long before medieval Europe. However, China did not produce modern science or capitalism. Indeed, an appreciation for learning and for precision were part of European culture long before these inventions. Those who see technology as neutral see underlying cultural beliefs and practices are responsible for the changes, not the technology itself.
Note: Dr. Winston Ewert is a software engineer living in the Vancouver, BC area. He obtained a PhD studying electrical and computer engineering at Baylor University. His work on specified complexity, swarm intelligence, evolutionary simulation, and genome analysis has appeared in conference, journals, and books. He is a Senior Researcher of the Evolutionary Informatics Lab, a Senior Research Scientist at Biologic Institute, and a Senior Fellow of the Walter Bradley Center for Natural and Artificial Intelligence.
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