The Great Spotted Cuckoo is a nomadic species of bird that lays its eggs in the nests of the smaller European Magpie. If the magpie host removes the cuckoo’s egg from her nest, the cuckoo ransacks the nest and destroys the eggs. When the baby cuckoo hatches, the magpie feeds it along with her own chicks. But the baby cuckoo is bigger, takes more food, and will often kill the magpie chicks by pushing them out of the nest.

Of course, this is dangerous, not just for the magpie, but for the cuckoo itself, who will at some point run out of nests to invade. In contrast, consider the wildflower, that reproduces by providing pollen to bees and butterflies and nectar to hummingbirds. One spreads quickly at the expense of the ecosystem that sustains it. The other spreads slowly, as a side effect of nourishing its ecosystem.

When we build our tools, we should aim for the latter.