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Tools = Technology?

Tools = Technology?

tools

Last week I attended a workshop, “The Digital Marketing Journey” at IBM and was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t the usual yawn fest of corporate self adulation! In fact, it was very useful in that it shared information as to the history of Digital Marketing and insights on Marketing Automation. One of the many tools that I came out with is that I should be utilizing this newsletter on DFC’s website. For those of you longtime readers, we used to do that and with the advent of our new website, that for some reason ceased. Going forward, if you wish to reference any information that you have seen in the DFC Newsletters, they will be reposted as blogs on our website: http://www.dfc.com/blog/ (it’s also in the footer of the website).

The Oldest Stone Tools Show that Technology Predates Humans
The use of tools is generally considered to be an indication of a species’ level of cognition. For a while, it was thought that only humans knew how to use tools, but soon chimpanzees and New Caledonian crows  joined the list. Now, tool use can be found in a variety of different species.

The newest addition to the list not only is not human, but also actively predates the Homo genus by 700,000 years. The oldest known stone tools have been found in Kenya, and are hypothesized to possibly have been used by Kenyanthropus platyops, a homonin who lived in the area 3.3 million years ago. This is the earliest use of technology discovered on earth yet (!), and is documented by the discovering team from Rutgers University in the current Nature.

Paleoanthropologist Jason Lewis, co-author of the study, described the discovery to Smithsonian.com:

“Just after teatime, a radio call came in: Someone had spotted a series of strange stones sticking out of the sediment. Scars cut into the stones set them apart from run-of-the-mill rocks. ‘You can tell these scars are organized,’ says [co-author Sonia] Harmand. The rocks had been hit against one another to detach flakes, a process called knapping. Based on geological records for the area, the artifacts had to be at least 2.7 million years old. ‘We had no champagne that evening, but we were very happy,’ Harmand recalls.

As it turned out, the 149 artifacts eventually excavated from the site were even older. Analyses of magnetic minerals and volcanic ash tufts imbedded in the local rocks put the age of the stones at 3.3 million years.”

This discovery pushes the boundaries of what we know of tool use. For me, it emphasizes that humans are really not that special — we have achieved “mastery” of the earth through sheer luck, and, to paraphrase a certain comic book character, with great tool use comes great responsibility. As for the tools themselves, their exact origins and method of construction are still a tantalizing mystery. Here’s hoping more excavation in that unusual dried riverbed in Kenya reveals more gems!