What Is Technology?


Technology is a broad term used to describe the human ability to manipulate the environment. It includes the accumulated knowledge of how to make things and how to operate machines, as well as the ability to communicate those ideas through language. Technological change has often changed the way humans live and work. Improvements in farming techniques led to the industrial revolution; advances in sanitation and preventive medicine have transformed population growth; bows and arrows gave way to gunpowder and nuclear explosives, which changed how war is waged; the microprocessor has transformed how people write, bank, run businesses, research and communicate with one another.

Some technological changes are so profound they change the course of history and the nature of mankind itself. Nonetheless, many technological developments are small and incremental. They may include upgrading operating systems, releasing security patches or making minor modifications to existing products.

In addition to helping companies step ahead of their competitors, technology upgrades have a large-scale benefit for the consumers. They ease the operations for employees and customers alike, and they reduce costs for businesses.

However, it is important to remember that, even though making technology is often described as a process of problem-solving, the problem-solving function is only a small part of the overall phenomenon. Joseph Dunne argues that when making technology, “one is not just deliberating about different means toward an end that has already been determined; one is also continually defining the end itself.” Whether we are deliberating about bringing the world closer to our own wishes or about how to survive in a changing world, we all use technology.

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