One Finite Planet

Tools, Toys and Superpowers: Technology Driven Evolution.

First Published:

Table of Contents

In the spirit of Batman and Ironman, 'tools' provide humans with abilities far beyond those we posses physically. Genetically we may be similar to a human of 100,000 years ago, but our knowledge and tools make us so different.


Introduction: Superpowers, Tools, Toys and Technology.

What Is A Tool? Answer: An Enhancement.

A tool can be considered equipment that enhances abilities.

OK, these days ‘tool’ can be a derogatory term for a person as in: “I went to the store today and I saw they had a tool section. I just had to look, and sure enough there were several tools there, all standing around looking lustfully at products that they don’t need”.

But seriously, this just demonstrates meanings change. In fact the narrower definition of ‘tools’ being a section of the hardware store is itself a very narrow use of the word tool. The first stone tools, did not fit this narrower description of ‘tool’, and when researching animals ability to use ‘tools’ it can include an octopus using a coconut for shelter, or even a dolphin using a sponge. The reality tools are not just products sold as tools, and unlike that narrow definition, tools are not predominantly from domains that in a sexist world are mostly male. Not only is the label ‘tool’ used for ‘kitchen tools’, but the term ‘tool’ also describes mixers, blenders, and a whole host of kitchen appliances used equally by both genders. The are cameras and lenses as tools of photography, of sewing machines and more as tools for sewing, and tools for science. For almost any human activity, we have tools to enhance our abilities, and give us superpowers.

Technology Driven Evolution: Humans Gain New Superpowers through Tools.

Every new technology starts off as toy, an idea that doesn’t really work yet, but sooner or later, many do progress to become useful tools.

From the first stone tools, through to mobile devices, humanity has progressed and been transformed by the tools available at the time. Humanity before the inventions of tools have such primitive capabilities in comparison with humanity today, that it seems hard to recognise both the old and new as the same species. A human equipped with a full array of the tools of todays technology would appear to a human from just a few thousand years earlier to be like a god or an alien in possession of superpowers.

It is the development of tools that has rewritten time and time again the competitiveness of humans vs other species, that has resulted in the population we see today, compared to the population of humans 100,000 years ago. The reason humans in the first 200,000 thousand years did not grow to a population of billions like we have in the last 10,000 years, is that we did not have the superpowers that we have today.

Given that the development of tools has made humans the successful species that we are today, the humans who did not love toos all died out.

Tools provide superpowers. Not just for Batman and Ironman, but potentially for everyone, or they would if the tools of Batman and Ironman were real and not just toys.

Why Everyone Loves Tools: Capability, Identity, & Fulfillment.

Even an octopus can love tools.

There is a the narrow definition of ‘tools’ from the hardware store, but the more fundamental definition includes clothes, eating utensils, and anything we make part of our life that the first humans did not have.

Everybody likes tools as they give us superpowers to get things done, pursue hobbies, and even leisure activities far better than without them. It is only the use of the word that has been more gender aligned.

Adopting and using tools is considered a key characteristic of being human. With tools we can have capabilities beyond those provided by our physiology. Early humans used tools to enable them increase their abilities to hunt, to build homes, and to prepare food. The dictionary makes specific reference to ‘a handheld device that aids in the accomplishment of a task’, but when visiting the ‘garden tools’ section, it can be seen that even a ride on mower, can be classified as a tool, despite not being handheld. Most people would also agree that even desktop computers can be regarded as tools, or at least an ‘office tool’, but we don’t normally think of a car as tool. This suggests the idea of a tool already extends beyond handheld.

The definition I choose to work with is:

tool: a device that aids in accomplishing an outcome.

Tools Extend An Enhance Human Abilities.

Tools extend the capabilities of the person with the tool. The owner of a tool has extended capabilities. Just as superheros Batman and Ironman gain extra powers through their suits and accessories, a person with a motor vehicle is capable of amazing feats.

Each task a tool enables gives new powers to the person with the tool. The ability to accomplish these tasks allows people to see themselves differently, and thus changes their sense of self and how they are perceived by others.

It has become part of human to have tools that can enable accomplishing many tasks. Possessing tools changes a persons identity to a person enable people to do more than before. From someone who can’t tackle a task, to someone who can tackle that task.

Use of tools is what has enabled humans to be so successful as a species, and as a key to success as a species, we have evolved to feel rewarded and fulfilled, by the capabilities our tools provide and scope of tasks they allow us to accomplish.

Homes and Other Possessions Are Forms Of Tools.

Everything we own becomes an accessory to who we are and a part our identity.

Tools Vs Technology.

The terms ‘technology’ and ‘tools’ can be used somewhat interchangeably.

However, it can be interpreted that the underlying technology is what makes the tools possible, and a tool is created when an embodiment of technologies enables doing something useful. When technology results in products that give people the ability to either do things they could not do before, or to do things faster or with less effort than previously.

To focus on the technology is to focus on the technical specifications, while to focus on the tool is to look at what we can achieve when using the technology, and to highlight how the technology allows us to achieve things. A technology review of a robot vacuum looks at how it works and how it compares with others, while considering the perspective of a tool might focus more on how much better having the robot vacuum, is better than using a conventional vacuum.

Toys Vs Tools.

I use the term ‘toy’ for a technology that has not yet achieved ‘tool’ status. An example would be my first robot vacuum cleaner, which did manage to vacuum, but did not really improve my ability to vacuum or significantly reduce the time and effort to get the job done.

I sometimes write evaluations of products I use, but as I don’t try all equivalent products, the focus is usually about is the product a ‘toy’ that achieves little that could be achieved without it, or a true ‘tool’ that allows a person to do more.

Electric Vehicles(EVs), Autonomous Cars, And Personal Mobility.

Follow this link for the full topic.

Web Tools & Technologies.

Other Tools, Toys and Enhancements plus Product Reviews.


  • Feb 14, 2022: Updated subcategories – getting ready to omit.