What is the nature of the artefact? What is the nature of technological knowledge? What is the precise nature of the ecological relationship between human beings and the objects which they manufacture? Do artefacts and ideas improve human life, or detract from it, or are there examples of both kinds? Are they parasitic or symbiotic? Questions such as these are considered against the background of the archaeology of human/artefact relationships. It is argued that while the artefact production systems associated with art, science and religion lack some of the qualities associated with familiar life forms, they are nonetheless truly alive. The paper compares the strategies of organisations and ideas in scientific, artistic and religious milieus to the strategies of the AIDS virus and parasitic plants such as Rafflesia.