Sunday, 8 February 2015

What was the First Tool Humans Invented? - My thoughs

What was the first thing our ancestors invented?  The club, the wheel, fire?  I think something else.

I found myself in a meeting a week back with people from all over the world.  For a brief moment I marvelled at how people from almost every continent could converse.  Mainly English was spoken, but I heard at least four other languages and not just from native speakers.  It was then I had my idea for this blog.

Disclaimer: I am far from being an expert in this field, it was just some random thoughts that sort of make sense.  Have a read and see what you think, comments are welcome, but be friendly :o)

Archaeologists find stone tools:  clubs, axes, knives, scrapers, that's where the chain of inventions started that led to spacecraft and space-based kit I help to design.  Those must be the first inventions - No.

It has to be language.  Our distant forefathers and foremothers had to work out how to communicate.  It leaves no direct evidence, but we all know it had to be there or we wouldn't be here.  I was in a room where one group of people were explaining a very complex concept to another group of people from the other side of the world.  We did it!  In fact that was the easy bit, solving the technical challenges, not how to get them across will be the task for this project to proceed.  Language must be the first invention - No.

I think the invention of language is a close second, actually it's probably a distant third because there are animals with limited language and others with none that use tools, like crows for example.

I think the first human invention was...drum roll...the NAME.  We invented names.  We labelled the world and ourselves and our place in it.  From the moment we understood we were more than objects, we gave ourselves names.  Humanity is a poetry of labels, also a cage of labels too, so be careful with them.  We all understand the pain of being labelled, even if it is unintentionally harmless, writes a man who once received a letter to Mr R Goldfish.

More specifically humanity's first invention was the name for humanity, we invented ourselves.

We called ourselves 'Man'.  Not like nowadays where it is seen as a male orientated word.  Man meant all of us.  Man meant mind.  That was the first invention, us and a label for us.

Any crow or parrot can do stone tools and sharpened sticks, but few creatures can say: hey, this is us.  We are us.

I was in a room full of minds the other week and the most wonderful thing about it was that we all put our minds together to solve something no single mind could do.  Now that's inventing.

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