What Is Technology?


Technology has been associated with every field you can imagine, from business, space, and robotics to superintelligence, medicine, education, and automobiles. This wide scope has given rise to many lucrative job roles like data scientists, software developers, cyber security experts and computer programmers.

The broadest definition of technology is the tools and machines that enable people to solve real-world problems. These can be as simple as a crowbar or wooden spoon, or as complex as a particle accelerator or space station. But the term also encompasses virtual technologies like computer programs and communication networks.

Every engineering design operates within constraints, some of which are absolute (like physical laws), while others have a degree of flexibility: economic (how much money is available for development and how will that change over time), political (local, state and federal regulations), social (public opposition to the technology), ecological (disruption of natural environments), and ethical (disadvantages to some people or risk to future generations). Reaching an optimal technological design requires striking a reasonable compromise among these factors.

Most technological innovations spread or disappear on the basis of free-market forces, although they may become controversial in the process. Some technologies are resisted on moral grounds, such as contour plowing and genetically modified crops, while others are subject to formal regulatory review (like nuclear power plants or vaccines). Dystopian literary classics like Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four criticize the use of industrial technology, and Theodore Kaczynski (aka The Unabomber) conducted a decades-long bombing campaign against industrial society.