All through our history, we have been changing the world with our technology. Our technology has been of two kinds, green and grey. Green technology is seeds and plants, gardens and vineyards and orchards, domesticated horses and cows and pigs, milk and cheese, leather and wool. Grey technology is bronze and steel, spears and guns, coal and oil and electricity, automobiles and airplanes and rockets, telephones and computers. Civilization began with green technology, with agriculture and animal-breeding, ten thousand years ago. Then, beginning about three thousand years ago, grey technology became dominant, with mining and metallurgy and machinery. For the last five hundred years, grey technology has been racing ahead and has given birth to the modern world of cities and factories and supermarkets.
The dominance of grey technology is now coming to an end. During the last fifty years, we have achieved a fundamental understanding of the processes occurring in living cells. With understanding comes the ability to exploit and control. Out of the knowledge acquired by modern biology, modern biotechnology is growing. The new green technology will give us the power, using only sunlight as a source of energy, and air and water and soil as sources of materials, to manufacture and recycle chemicals of all kinds. Our grey technology of machines and computers will not disappear, but green technology will be moving ahead even faster. Green technology can be cleaner, more flexible and less wasteful, than our existing chemical industries. A great variety of manufactured objects could be grown instead of made. Green technology could supply human needs with far less damage to the natural environment. And green technology could be a great equalizer, bringing wealth to the tropical areas of the world which have most of the sunshine, most of the human population, and most of the poverty.
Freeman Dyson, en el discurso de recepción del Templeton Prize.
( Más Dyson en Del Tiempo : I, II, III)