We are makers of machines. It is one of the many defining characteristics of mankind.
My guess is that we create machines primarily out of a desire to avoid work. Which makes perfect sense. Work is a drag. It interferes with doing other things. It also usually involves a great deal of effort, hence the term; work. Personally, I try to avoid it whenever possible, but sometimes there is just no getting out of it.
This strange realization came out of some recent research into the history of wind power. The wind mill has been around for centuries. According to some historians, the earliest windmills were in use from 500-700 AD in the regions of ancient Syria and Turkey. These earliest of work reducing machines were invented to mill grain into flour for bread, hence the term wind + mill. And by the way, these early windmills were vertical axis, not horizontal axis like the ones we see today.
But man does not live by bread alone. In fact, water is the most important resource for survival. And a single gallon of water weighs around 8 pounds. So if you have to walk some distance to carry water, there is going to be a lot of work each day just to survive, and a lot of time spent doing it. This does not include water for irrigation of plants.
Historically, the other most common application of windmills was pumping water. Just as the invention of the wind sail revolutionized the use of boats, wind sails began to be applied to windmills in Europe, hence the image of the Dutch windmill we are all familiar with. The wind mill of the middle ages pumped water for irrigation.
Grain production in the middle ages was predominantly accomplished through horse and ox powered mills. Presumably, the availability of wind would not have been sufficient to support growing populations compared to the amount of grain that could be produced by a horse. This would later lead to the creation of the measurement for work which we continue to use today, the horsepower. (just making sure we have a proper tie-in for mechatronics)
Just think about the westward expansion in the United States. Most early farms had to locate near water sources, or drill water wells that were pumped by windmills. So windmills have been in fairly widespread use in the US for over 150 years. Of course, now that we have a mature system of water supply and electricity, windmills for pumping water are relatively rare.
So we find ourselves reinventing what already existed for thousands of years and attempting with all our might to be ingenious and create a new technology that will provide for our energy future. I will close by saying that over the last few years, we have done a lousy job so far. Something new is needed.