saving today’s tools: two by two, like noah

ark for tools

Something clicked upon seeing news of the Arctic seed vault now being built by the Global Crop Diversity Trust to protect collections of crop genetic diversity around the world (via lockergnome).

This got me thinking about a Noah-like selection process for preserving the best 'modern' tools...past the decline of the current civilization.

An Ark for tools, you ask? Precisely.

Ten years ago, James Lovelock had a similar idea for a primer on science, but we need more than the instruction set. What about the tools themselves, and how to build them?

And mebbe Kauai would be a good spot for such a tool depository.

Like the seed vault (in the far North Atlantic) and the remote monastaries that helped saved crucial information in previous periods of uncivilized decline, Kauai is far removed and has lots of places to hide stuff.

As Lovelock says, we wouldn't want to have "to reinvent from scratch how to hammer, to saw, to send radio signals, to telephone or to e-mail", calling his primer "the scientific equivalent of the Bible, to be be passed down as an inheritance to future generations."

Still, there are so many tools, including the 74 different types of cutting, garden, hand, and power tools listed on Wikipedia.

And we might be especially concerned with preserving our machine tools, including metal-cutting like boring, broaching, drilling, gear-cutting, grinding, turning, and milling, as well as metal-forming like forging, die-forming, bending, pressing, shearing, and punching.

Oh, and let's not forget the tools for making tools, such as jigs, gauges, dies, and molds.

Of course, we could just preserve the various handbooks for industry, such as metalworking.

One advantage of an ark-like preservation system is that we could hold on to exquisitely complicated tools like the Laser Micro-Machining Systems and desktop fabricators that make making stuff so easy these days.

Definitely wouldn't want to have to reinvent that.

And, just like in the Dark Ages, where the monks took care of civilization's preserved knowledge, we would need folks to look after our tools. Preferably folks who also knew how to use and repair them.

As Lovelock points out, "science is no longer a calling where scientists are the guardians of knowledge, but rather has become a narrowly specialized employment...and has no equivalent of the monasteries."

So, come to think of it, this is no small task. Wish I had one tool for making it easier.

Published by Ken on March 17th, 2007 tagged Island Vulnerabilities, Systems Thinking

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