There are seven species of great ape on the planet. How did the weakest ape come out on top?
With breathtaking scope and depth, archaeologist and prehistorian Timothy Taylor presents a new and much-needed theory of technology. It not only turns Darwinian theory on its head, but also argues that (alongside physics and biology) it is the human relationship with artifice that has as powerfully framed and formed human evolution.
Taylor compellingly displays how from the moment this weak bi-pedal ape chipped its first stone and slayed the stronger mega-fauna, the process of ‘natural selection’ and ‘survival of the fittest’ was undermined. From birth to death, from fire, tools, weapons, gifts and image making to screen technologies, it is our innovations that have allowed us to nurture immature offspring, increase protein intake, prioritise innovation, confer strength, define culture and spread ideas.
Taylor goes even further, and asserts not only that technology evolved us, but that it is driven by its own unfolding logic. That the entire system of technological inertia is by now so immense that the sorts of choices left for us to make in the future are essentially trivial.
Join Timothy Taylor at the RSA as he traces our relationship with artefact and technology, from the Venus of Willendorf to Anthony Gormley, referencing a huge range of culture and scholarship, casting a critical and surprising light on what is currently happening to our bodies and minds - why they are progressively and inevitably weakening, and why it may not ultimately matter.
Speaker: Dr Timothy Taylor, reader in archaeology, University of Bradford, editor-in-chief, Journal of World Prehistory and author of The Artificial Ape (Palgrave Macmillan, 9 September 2010)