What Is Technology?

Technology is a broad term that encompasses numerous areas, but there are certain key elements that all technology shares. These include:

The human race has been shaped by technological advancements from prehistorical times to the present day. The discovery of fire increased available sources of food, and the invention of the wheel helped people in moving around and controlling their environment. Other advancements like the printing press, telephone and Internet reduced physical barriers to communication. But, not all technologies are created equal – some have been used to create weapons of ever-increasing destructive power.

In a consumer world, the concept of technology is often synonymous with gadgets. Mobile phones, the internet, computers, big TVs and HiFis are some of the examples of modern technology. In an enterprise or business context, the word is more closely linked to Information Technology (IT) – servers, networks and software.

There are two sharply diverging traditions of talking about technology: one, a utilitarian approach that emphasises means and ends, and the other, which is more creative and humane. The former approach has been exemplified by Aristotle, Hugh of St Victor, Johann Beckmann and Talcott Parsons. The latter has been exemplified by Aldous Huxley, George Orwell and Anthony Burgess.

One of the most important aspects of technology is that it must prioritize some paths while neglecting others. This is a result of the fact that any technology must make efficient use of finite resources such as energy and attention. For example, when digital cameras became popular, it deprioritized the analogue photography pathway – with its inefficient, time-consuming and gratifying workflows of developing film and retouching photographs in darkrooms.

Another essential aspect of technology is that it makes processes more effective and reduces costs. This is possible because of the ability to automate processes and to employ machines that can work faster than humans, while ensuring accuracy in decision-making.

In education, the most obvious effect of technology is that it enables students to learn in ways that are not possible with traditional methods such as lectures and reading. This helps them stay interested in the subject and improves their academic marks. It also allows them to collaborate with other students from around the globe and gives teachers the flexibility to adapt their lessons to the unique needs of each student. The internet has also democratised access to knowledge and information, and students can research their homework on the go with their smartphones or tablets. This has helped them become more self-sufficient learners and empowered them to take charge of their own learning. However, students must be careful with how they use this technology. They should be aware of cyber security risks and avoid storing private or sensitive information on their devices. They should also avoid downloading illegal content or sharing inappropriate material.