τεχνολογια < τεχνη "craftsmanship" +
λογος "word, reckoning" + the suffix ια) has more than one definition. One is the development
and application of tools, machines, materials and processes that help to solve
human problems. As a human activity, technology predates both science and engineering. It embodies the human knowledge of solving real problems in the design
of standard tools, machines, materials or the process. Thus standardisation of design is an essential feature of technology.
Science, Engineering and Technology:
Science is the study of natural facts. Engineering is the application of the knowledge learned scientifically to develop products. Technology is use of the engineered product.
Example: Flow of electrons produces current, this is a fact or concept in science. When current is passed through a
semiconductor device such as silicon or germanium, the mechanism is known as electronics. The production of an electronic device
using the concept of electronics is known as electronics engineering. Computers are developed using electronics engineering.
Using the computer to store digital information, processing it and sending it from one place to another through telecommunication
equipments in a secure manner is information technology.
The term technology thus often characterises inventions and gadgets using
recently-discovered scientific principles and processes. However, even very old inventions such as the wheel exemplify technology.
Another definition — used by economics — sees technology as the
current state of our knowledge of how to combine resources to produce desired products (and our knowledge of what can be
produced). Thus, we can see technological change when our technical knowledge increases.
Technology in ideology
Very often, new is assumed to mean "better" in technology and engineering circles. The notion of appropriate technology developed in the twentieth century to describe situations where it was not desirable to use very new
technologies or those that required access to some centralized infrastructure or parts or skills imported from elsewhere. The eco-village movement evolved in part due to this concern. Intermediate technology, more of an economics concern, refers to compromises between central and expensive technologies of developed nations and those which developing nations find most effective to deploy given an excess of labour, and scarcity of cash. In
general, an "appropriate" technology will also be "intermediate".
Exactly contrary assumptions are made by those who promote transhumanism, posthumanism, and singularitarianism. In these ideologies, technological development is
morally good. Some critics see these ideologies as symptoms of scientism,
mathematical fetishism or belief in techno-utopianism.
In economics, definitions or assumptions of progress or growth are often related to one or more of
the above assumptions. Challenging prevailing assumptions about technology and its usefulness has led to ideas like uneconomic growth or measuring well-being. These, and economics itself, can often be described as technologies,
specifically, as persuasion technology — a concern
covered in its own separate article.
Concepts in technology
- Michael Adas, Machines as the Measure of Men: Science, Technology, and Ideologies of Western Dominance, Cornell University
- David Noble, Forces of Production: a social history of industrial automation, New York : Knopf 1984, Paperback Edition:
Oxford University Press 1990