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A Companion to the Philosophy of Technology by Vincent F. Hendricks, Stig Andur Pedersen, Jan Kyrre Berg Olsen Friis

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Biology, Technology and Biotic artifacts

Craft-based technology was used in transforming living organisms to become biotic artifacts when the first plants or animals were domesticated about ten thousand years ago. The process of domestication was based on trial and error, although it has led to spectacular results indeed. It remains the method in many parts of the world even today, but in the developed world it has been, by and large, superseded by double hybridization (1930s), a technology induced by the fundamental discoveries of the first revolution in genetics, namely Mendelian genetics, and since the 1970s it is supplemented (rather than totally superseded) by biotechnology, induced by the fundamental discoveries of the second revolution in genetics of the twentieth century, namely DNA genetics (1957) and molecular biology.

What these three types of technology have in common, in spite of the great differences between them, is their common goal of transforming naturally occurring organisms to become biotic artifacts – humankind through them selects a particular characteristic(s) possessed by a plant/animal deemed to be desirable (high yield, drought-resistance) or a specific characteristic deemed to be undesirable (prone to pest-infestation, too short/too tall) to be bred in or out of the organism.

In other words, at each of these three levels of technological development, the concept of the biotic artifact correspondingly evolved. Under craft-based technology of artificial ...

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