Johnson, V. & Simms, A. (2012) ‘On the magic bullet’, in: Tyszczuk, R. et al. (eds). Atlas: Geography, Architecture and Change in an Interdependent World, London: Blackdog Publishing, pp. 126-131.


From the advent of the simplest hand tool, to the evolution of agriculture and advance systems of transport and communication, technology has patterned human interdependence, and the interactions between society and the biosphere. Culture on the other hand, seeks to understand, problematise and explain those complex relationships. Where technology evolves to answer a particular question, culture invariably turns around to ask for several more different answers. Out of successful problems solving, unintended consequences usual emerge. For this reason, cultural representations of technology in Western civilisation, and the dualistic, mechanistic and reductive philosophies from which it stems, drips with ambivalence. The highest ambitions of science in the service of technology can give rise to the deepest doubts.