Every living being - from insect to plant, from micro-bacteria to your next-door neighbour - carries a myriad of different toolsets inbuilt by evolution. These toolsets not only vary by organism, but by their need for development and growth. Such advances can be seen at a physical level; one of the most common examples being the advancement of human hands developing the existence of opposable thumbs: a prime example of a toolset we use in our day to day existence - without such a tool, this blog about toolsets couldn’t be typed.
Others include highly specialised, geared and specific feeding programmes. Dolphins and crows, for example, can utilise external objects as tools in their quest to feed. Bottle nose dolphins engage in a behaviour which involves creasing rings of mud in shallow water in order to encircle and capture their prey - mullet.
However, these limited examples are somewhat incomparable to the immense capability of developing toolsets that our predecessor Homo Prototypes were able to afford us. Extending over 4 million years ago, we find evidence of the earliest arrow. This predates even our Eden Period, thought to be within the last 200,000 years, where Homo sapiens developed the ability to visualise ourselves and surroundings virtually.
The former mentioned development of highly proficient hands, coupled with the most advanced brain in the natural world, has enabled us with two overwhelming advantages, gifting (or indeed cursing) us with the Mastery of Nature.
We can see evidence of the fact that our ancestors could visualise themselves and surroundings in art, for example. The infamous Lion Man in Germany, dating over 40,000 years ago, to the cave paintings found in Indonesia dating from a similar time, reveal our progressive identification of maturing toolsets: temples, pottery, weapons, and other instruments allowing us to endlessly build powerful civilisations.
Beyond physical tools, we are still aggregating a profuse and extensive understanding of the world itself - in our comprehension of Science, Mathematics and, more recently, digital technology. Within each of these subsets are revealed specialised interlocking toolsets which we can manipulate to our ‘advantage’. Possibly the most influential discovery has been that of DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid), enabling us to manipulate our own natural genetics. Through this, and increasingly, we can act as a Creator God. We develop cures for genetically based diseases; we can quite literally design our own offspring and we can, in essence, develop other awesome and terrifying outputs. The potential of our understanding of DNA has been, so far, exponential. This is just the beginning.
These are the examples of the extensive arena of toolsets that we, as humans, have vast access to. Our ability to use or abuse, to act for good or ill, grows exponentially, probably at a rate proportionate to our understanding. Politically, we can use physics and nuclear technology to threaten cold or hot wars. Naturally, we have the ability to damage our globe environmentally, but also mortally.
Our challenge, within this, is to manage these potent tools for the Common Good. Globally, politically, and together, we can draw together our ever-expanding knowledge with a collective sense of morality to achieve this.