75% of the world’s population has a cell phone, and 30% has access to the Internet: 77.5% in France in 2010 against only 12.5% in Algeria for example.
Thus, technological development has increased considerably in a few decades, but with a strongly contrasting distribution.
René Descartes already predicted the reduction of work that mathematics could represent, here developed in a computer form:
“Mathematics has very subtle inventions that can serve much, both to satisfy the curious, and to facilitate all the arts.”
Descartes, Discourse on Method, 1637
Thus a long tradition of inventions, discovered thanks to the work of men, has allowed to “facilitate all the arts”. In 1315, Armati’s corrective glasses, in 1440, Gutenberg’s printing press opened the way to a massive production of the written word. The steam turbine of Giovanni Branca in 1629, the steam engine with piston of Papin in 1687, or the spinning frame elaborated by Richard Arkwright in Great Britain in 1760 have considerably lightened the work of men.
If work is made easier by science, the consequences for nature remain important. Computer technology and the creation of the Internet are not without pollution, although it is not immediately apparent to the user. For example, in 2008, the 62 billion spam mails, i.e. undesirable mails, sent in the world would represent 17 million tons of CO2, i.e. 0.2 % of the world emissions.
The work of man, because it acts directly on nature, should be part of a process of respect for this nature that allows it in return to develop.
Work is an attempt for the man to arrange nature, and thus seems to have to bend it to his requirements, because it is in the nature of the man to work, to manufacture, and consequently to seek to act on nature.
However, the work cannot do without nature, and must thus spare this environment. It must therefore manifest itself in harmony with nature, and even protect it from its activities.
The new challenges posed by the environment, linked to the consequences of human activity insofar as they pollute or degrade this environment, as well as to the development of technologies that lighten work, invite us to reconsider work under the aspect of its products as an impact on nature.
Work can then turn out to be a threat to nature, and to the man who lives in this nature. This logic is even more evident in the economic relations of work, as an exploitation of nature, but especially of man by man.