Technology Definition & Meaning
Today and throughout history, technology influences and is influenced by such societal issues/factors as economics, values, ethics, institutions, groups, the environment, government, among others. The discipline studying the impacts of science, technology, and society and vice versa is called Science and technology in society. While technology contributes to economic development and human prosperity, it can also have negative impacts like pollution or resource depletion, or cause social harms like technological unemployment caused by automation.
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- Different than a college or university, the British Columbia Institute of Technology offers practical, applied education with instructors who have direct, hands-on experience in their field.
- Some of the earliest tools used by humans included sharpened stones used as arrowheads, axes, and cutting tools, which can be considered mechanical technology.
- Put together, the Roman aqueducts extended over 450 km, but less than 70 km of this was above ground and supported by arches.
- Since technology can be so simple or so complex, there are many types of technology.
The ethics of technology is an interdisciplinary subfield of ethics that analyzes technology’s ethical implications and explores ways to mitigate the potential negative impacts of new technologies. There is a broad range of ethical issues revolving around technology, from specific areas of focus affecting professionals working with technology to broader social, ethical, and legal issues concerning the role of technology in society and everyday life. It usually encompasses a related argument, technological autonomy, which asserts that technological progress follows a natural progresion and cannot be prevented. Social constructivists argue that technologies follow no natural progression, and are shaped by cultural values, laws, politics, and economic incentives. Modern scholarship has shifted towards an analysis of sociotechnical systems, “assemblages of things, people, practices, and meanings,” looking at the value judgments that shape technology.
The earliest methods of stone tool making, known as the Oldowan “industry,” date back to at least 2.3 million years ago, with the earliest direct evidence of tool usage found in Ethiopia within the Great Rift Valley, dating back to 2.5 million years ago. This era of stone tool use is called the Paleolithic, or “Old stone age,” and spans all of human history up to the development of agriculture approximately 12,000 years ago. In 2005, futurist Ray Kurzweil claimed the next technological revolution would rest upon advances in genetics, nanotechnology, and robotics, with robotics being the most impactful of the three. Genetic engineering will allow far greater control over human biological nature through a process called directed evolution.
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Engines also enabled those products to be shipped like never before, and a huge variety of products were available to people all over the world. The advancement of industrial and manufacturing technologies also revolutionized war, making the production of weapons faster and cheaper. Through the 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s, manufacturing technologies brought the world fast food, paper plates, and cheap and affordable housing. The human race’s use of technology began with the conversion of natural resources into simple tools.
Some thinkers believe that this may shatter our sense of self, and have urged for renewed public debate exploring the issue more thoroughly; others fear that directed evolution could lead to eugenics or extreme social inequality. Nanotechnology will grant us the ability to manipulate matter “at the molecular and atomic scale”, which could allow us to reshape ourselves and our environment in fundamental ways. Nanobots could be used within the human body to destroy cancer cells or form new body parts, blurring the line between biology and technology. Autonomous robots have undergone rapid progress, and are expected to replace humans at many dangerous tasks, including search and rescue, bomb disposal, firefighting, and war. Emerging technologies are novel technologies whose development or practical applications are still largely unrealized.
When combined with another term, such as “medical technology” or “space technology,” it refers to the state of the respective field’s knowledge and tools. “State-of-the-art technology” refers to the high technology available to humanity in any field. Technology has affected society and its surroundings in a number of ways. In many societies, technology has helped develop more advanced economies (including today’s global economy) and has allowed the rise of a leisure class.
Past automation has both substituted and complemented labor; machines replaced humans at some lower-paying jobs , but this was compensated by the creation of new, higher-paying jobs. Studies have found that computers did not create significant net technological unemployment. Due to artificial intelligence being far more capable than computers, and still being in its infancy, it is not known whether it will follow the same trend; the question has been debated at length among economists and policymakers.