Technology is the collective term for anything that can be altered or changed, especially by the use of technology. This includes both man-made and naturally occurring items. Technology has been around since the beginning of recorded history. It was the discovery of fire that started the age of invention, followed by the wheel, then the bow and arrow, and the microscope. In recent years, computers, telecommunications equipment, and other forms of technology have been continuously added to our lives.
Technology is the total sum of any new techniques, tools, methods, or procedures utilized in the achievement of specific goals, including scientific research or the development of products. The total number of technologies is called the “technological progression.” There are two major theories on technology: social and technological. Social technology is usually thought of in terms of human culture; technological technology refers to the practical applications of science and technology. Since the advent of the communications revolution, the scope of social technology has widened to include issues such as education, politics, health care, and global warming.
The other half of the term technology is referred to as technology in its analytical category, which refers to the application of technologies in specific areas or fields. Analysis categories include computer sciences, engineering, applied mathematics, applied physics, business, power, electronics, information sciences, and computer technology. Some of these technologies, like databases, software, networks, and the Internet, have become a part of everyday life; others, like mobile phones, television, video, and transportation, were considered luxuries only a few years ago. A few of the more prominent analytic categories are cognitive technology, information technology, digital technology, and social technology.
Digital technologies, including digital photography, computer technology, desktop publishing, web development, video, and audio, fall into the first category of digital technologies. The most popular form of digital technologies, digital photography, offers a way for people to capture their memories and keep them in digital format indefinitely. Many images are now available on digital devices that can be viewed later, instantly, with no effort on the part of the user. This has opened up new ways of preserving experiences and collecting memories for posterity.
In the second category of positive technologies, artificial intelligence, automation, and computer sciences, we find technologies designed to improve artificial intelligence, solve problems, and increase efficiency. Two areas of major interest in artificial intelligence are e-commerce and machine learning. E-commerce refers to the use of the Internet, email, chat rooms, and other interactive means to facilitate communication and interactivity. Machine learning refers to the use of computers to assist human decision making and improve productivity. The Internet, computer networks, cellular phones, video, and audio are all forms of artificial intelligence.
Science and technology research is a vast field, and it is divided into many different sub-categories. However, one cannot consider such categories as real science unless one is willing to invest time in reading journals, attending conferences, and making oneself aware of the latest research and technological developments. Accordingly, it would be a mistake to regard such technological developments as irrelevant to society, economics, and politics. Indeed, Schatzberg and Waltz point out that today’s technologies are so diverse that “a broad classification may no longer be meaningful.”