Mumford describes an organic model of technology, or biotechnics, as a contrast to megatechnics. Organic systems direct themselves to “qualitative richness, amplitude, spaciousness, and freedom from quantitative pressures and crowding. Self-regulation, self-correction, and self-propulsion are as much an integral property of organisms as nutrition, reproduction, growth, and repair.” Biotechnics models life in seeking balance, wholeness, and completeness.
Polytechnics versus monotechnics
A key idea, introduced in Technics and Civilization (1934) was that technology was twofold:
Polytechnic, which enlists many different modes of technology, providing a complex framework to solve human problems.
Monotechnic which is technology only for its own sake, which oppresses humanity as it moves along its own trajectory.
Mumford commonly criticized modern America's transportation networks as being 'monotechnic' in their reliance on cars. Automobiles become obstacles for other modes of transportation, such as walking, bicycle and public transit, because the roads they use consume so much space and are such a danger to people. Mumford explains that the thousands of maimed and dead each year as a result of automobile accidents are a “ritual sacrifice” the American society makes because of its extreme reliance on highway transport.
links: Lewis Mumford:Public Intelectual