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Greatest Invention of Mankind?


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#61 Rational Madman

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Posted 24 January 2011 - 01:21 AM

This topic is a repeat of the same discussion from a few years ago. I wish we had back that little built-in search function that linked parallel topics at the bottom of the page.

I wrote a paper about twelve years ago in paleo-linguistics called "Fire, Women, and Words". Obviously from the title it details not only the idea that language is the "quintessential" invention of mankind but also links much of both the transition from proto-linguistics and proto-technology to women's hearth behaviors in the earliest stages of the transition from strict hunter-gatherer to sedentary proto-agricultural.

By the way everyone please consider: Is fire an invention or discovery? And does the analysis of this topic here adequately make such distinctions?

The making and uses of fire are most probably inventions and refinements by many contributors over many generations, but the recognition of fire as a potential tool rather than a survival threat is a discovery that we can thank some intelligent AND courageous hominid ancestor for; perhaps even more than one particular ancestor, in more than one time and place. However the relatively rapid spread of that knowledge across the fossil record implies a proto-linguistic ability already sufficient to convey complex information from one generation to the next, as well as to the neighbors. Language is what not only makes learning possible, it’s what makes history and record keeping possible even without writing.

Such ideas as words and even logic might be construed at their earliest phases to be discoveries of already latent characteristics, which developed evolutionarily and were already a part of our earliest cultural developments from the perspective of evolutionary psychology. Like our primate cousins, some birds, whales, bees, and even prairie dogs, we were using words before we recognized them as such. Communication is a part of the evolution of social beings. However, the transition from onomatopoeia and "serendipitous sound association" to intentional naming is a stage of linguistic development that I consider invention, not discovery. And I consider it up there near the top of a relatively short list of hyper-critical inventions such as the wheel, lever, and numbers, from which all other inventions owe their existence.

In that paper I not only developed the idea that language and naming were hearth activities but also the "keeping" and "development" of fire and derivative early technology, such as metallurgy, chemistry, medicine, taxonomy, biology, not to mention recording, empiricism, and pedagogy through female dominated child rearing and sustenance assessment. Basket weaving, net making, textiles, pottery, and so many more critical early inventions owe their existence to the hearth hierarchy of our ancestral matriarchy. The more specialized hunter-gatherer males also used language but they learned it from their mothers, however the naming of landmarks, threat versus prey, and task related tool making were the province of the males dominated hunting bands. These too also involved a learning/teaching environment (apprenticeship) as a child developed into adolescence.

"Naming and Numbers" was also a theme of language I investigated and I find the roots of written language to be based on them together. The first written words were numbers and the recognition of numbers as symbolic of meaning allowed the creation (invention) of written language. Most of the earliest languages share the meaning of the aleph or first 'letter' with the number one. The phonetic alphabet, as opposed to the more empirically developed symbolic one, is clearly an "invention” worth being on our short list here not to mention perhaps the variety of methods and means of writing itself (ink, carbonized sticks, stylus and wax, papyrus, dried leaf, stone tablet, etc).

I think it might be better to re-frame this topic into a periodic analysis that predicates the responses on the level of concurrent technology and acknowledges more how much we are dependent on all that goes before us. In other wards what was the most important invention of the last year, decade, century, half millennium, millennium, ten millennium, etc. Then maybe a comparison of the interdependence and relative importance of each with respect to the others.

I also suggest an analysis that scrutinizes the accelerating aspects of linguistic development that have also preceded all other technologies. Just as oral cultures gave way to literary ones and our species left the Pleistocene for the Holocene, when the printing press was invented, the Renaissance leads to the industrial age and our first fledgling steps into the Anthropocene.

The internet represents a quantum linguistic transition again in the form of a massive socially interactive memory device, as well as communication medium, that is accelerating Human Selection and affirming for geologic time the current era as the Anthropocene and the end of the Holocene.

Not just any, but every invention which can be linked to critical developmental transitions of our species and even shifts that drag along all life on our world such as Gene-tech, deserve to be assessed in this topic because they define critical markers in our and now all evolution for our planet.

I appreciate the root importance of language, but I decided to suggest written characters instead, because I consider it a more important correlate of progress. Are the isolated tribes in Brazil, for instance, without language? Perhaps language and the other inventions I proposed are less important than environmental conditions, which can strongly compel innovation. And to again offer an example, was the environment of the Egyptians, the Mesopotamians, the Romans, or the Greeks relatively rich in sources of food and sustenance? Anyway, I think the relative value of inventions is exceeding difficult---and perhaps impossible---to quantify, which will prevent most analyses from moving beyond a superficial stage. So to reduce this information burden, I think we should narrow the topic to inventions of the last ten or twenty years. And for that question, I'll have to do a bit of reflection and research.

#62 Rational Madman

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Posted 24 January 2011 - 02:17 AM

Talk about double edged swords...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PJQVlVHsFF8

Why on Earth hasn't Hasselhoff received at least a Presidential Medal of Freedom for helping to end the Cold War?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ot_katYYiU
And Hasselhoff at his best, drunk:
http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1w8vr_idontlikeyouinthatwaycom-hasselhoff_shortfilms

Edited by Rol82, 24 January 2011 - 02:27 AM.


#63 TelepathicMerg

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Posted 24 January 2011 - 03:57 PM

This topic is a repeat of the same discussion from a few years ago. I wish we had back that little built-in search function that linked parallel topics at the bottom of the page.

I wrote a paper about twelve years ago in paleo-linguistics called "Fire, Women, and Words". Obviously from the title it details not only the idea that language is the "quintessential" invention of mankind but also links much of both the transition from proto-linguistics and proto-technology to women's hearth behaviors in the earliest stages of the transition from strict hunter-gatherer to sedentary proto-agricultural.

By the way everyone please consider: Is fire an invention or discovery? And does the analysis of this topic here adequately make such distinctions?

The making and uses of fire are most probably inventions and refinements by many contributors over many generations, but the recognition of fire as a potential tool rather than a survival threat is a discovery that we can thank some intelligent AND courageous hominid ancestor for; perhaps even more than one particular ancestor, in more than one time and place. However the relatively rapid spread of that knowledge across the fossil record implies a proto-linguistic ability already sufficient to convey complex information from one generation to the next, as well as to the neighbors. Language is what not only makes learning possible, it’s what makes history and record keeping possible even without writing.

Such ideas as words and even logic might be construed at their earliest phases to be discoveries of already latent characteristics, which developed evolutionarily and were already a part of our earliest cultural developments from the perspective of evolutionary psychology. Like our primate cousins, some birds, whales, bees, and even prairie dogs, we were using words before we recognized them as such. Communication is a part of the evolution of social beings. However, the transition from onomatopoeia and "serendipitous sound association" to intentional naming is a stage of linguistic development that I consider invention, not discovery. And I consider it up there near the top of a relatively short list of hyper-critical inventions such as the wheel, lever, and numbers, from which all other inventions owe their existence.

In that paper I not only developed the idea that language and naming were hearth activities but also the "keeping" and "development" of fire and derivative early technology, such as metallurgy, chemistry, medicine, taxonomy, biology, not to mention recording, empiricism, and pedagogy through female dominated child rearing and sustenance assessment. Basket weaving, net making, textiles, pottery, and so many more critical early inventions owe their existence to the hearth hierarchy of our ancestral matriarchy. The more specialized hunter-gatherer males also used language but they learned it from their mothers, however the naming of landmarks, threat versus prey, and task related tool making were the province of the males dominated hunting bands. These too also involved a learning/teaching environment (apprenticeship) as a child developed into adolescence.

"Naming and Numbers" was also a theme of language I investigated and I find the roots of written language to be based on them together. The first written words were numbers and the recognition of numbers as symbolic of meaning allowed the creation (invention) of written language. Most of the earliest languages share the meaning of the aleph or first 'letter' with the number one. The phonetic alphabet, as opposed to the more empirically developed symbolic one, is clearly an "invention” worth being on our short list here not to mention perhaps the variety of methods and means of writing itself (ink, carbonized sticks, stylus and wax, papyrus, dried leaf, stone tablet, etc).

I think it might be better to re-frame this topic into a periodic analysis that predicates the responses on the level of concurrent technology and acknowledges more how much we are dependent on all that goes before us. In other wards what was the most important invention of the last year, decade, century, half millennium, millennium, ten millennium, etc. Then maybe a comparison of the interdependence and relative importance of each with respect to the others.

I also suggest an analysis that scrutinizes the accelerating aspects of linguistic development that have also preceded all other technologies. Just as oral cultures gave way to literary ones and our species left the Pleistocene for the Holocene, when the printing press was invented, the Renaissance leads to the industrial age and our first fledgling steps into the Anthropocene.

The internet represents a quantum linguistic transition again in the form of a massive socially interactive memory device, as well as communication medium, that is accelerating Human Selection and affirming for geologic time the current era as the Anthropocene and the end of the Holocene.

Not just any, but every invention which can be linked to critical developmental transitions of our species and even shifts that drag along all life on our world such as Gene-tech, deserve to be assessed in this topic because they define critical markers in our and now all evolution for our planet.

I appreciate the root importance of language, but I decided to suggest written characters instead, because I consider it a more important correlate of progress. Are the isolated tribes in Brazil, for instance, without language? Perhaps language and the other inventions I proposed are less important than environmental conditions, which can strongly compel innovation. And to again offer an example, was the environment of the Egyptians, the Mesopotamians, the Romans, or the Greeks relatively rich in sources of food and sustenance? Anyway, I think the relative value of inventions is exceeding difficult---and perhaps impossible---to quantify, which will prevent most analyses from moving beyond a superficial stage. So to reduce this information burden, I think we should narrow the topic to inventions of the last ten or twenty years. And for that question, I'll have to do a bit of reflection and research.



Each invention, in some way, is a discovery of existing nature. Communication at its best is one that supports on-demand access to all info and at the same time provides full on-demand memory (aren't we but a memory?) My belief is that such communication will begin with the initiation of 3D pattern based language. This will be (future) one of the great "inventions"

https://docs.google....ZRlU/edit?hl=en

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#64 drus

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Posted 24 January 2011 - 09:02 PM

nothing is ever 'invented', only 'discovered'. I would say time travel and/or the ability to completely control/manipulate matter/energy at the sub-atomic level will be the ultimate discoveries.




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