Technology is the use of tools and machines to help humans accomplish their goals. It can be used in construction, education, entertainment and other fields. The term is also used to describe any scientific discovery or engineering result that has practical application. Technology is also a tool that shapes and defines culture. While it may seem that technology is a relatively new invention, it has actually been around for as long as people have. From the simple use of stone and bone to modern electronic devices, technology has always been present.
Some technological advances are so significant that they change the nature of the human environment. These changes can include environmental, social, economic, or even ethical issues. Some examples include the development of food sources and transportation, sanitation, medicine, and weaponry. Although most technological advancements are beneficial, some have been utilized for purposes such as political oppression and war.
Many technological developments occur on a large scale and are often the work of multiple individuals, companies, and organizations. This includes research, design, manufacture, marketing, and maintenance. Other technological developments involve a combination of these activities as well as the broader scope of a society’s values, circumstances, and priorities at any given time. Generally, these factors determine whether and to what extent any particular technology is adopted, paid attention to, invested in, or even developed further.
The most common application of technology involves the use of tools, instruments and materials to help with the production of goods and services. These can be as simple as the use of a hand tool to carve wood or other materials or as complex as the creation of a skyscraper. In both cases, the technology is designed to make production easier, faster, cheaper, or safer.
All technology is subject to constraints. Some of these constraints are absolute-physical laws, the availability of energy and raw materials, and cost considerations. Other constraints are more subjective-social (risks to individual privacy, the disruption of natural environments), cultural (values about appropriateness and fairness) or ethical (disadvantages to future generations). Engineers generally seek to balance these concerns as they create technology.
Almost all technology requires some degree of maintenance and repair. Some of this is done as a routine maintenance activity, but other times it requires more extensive repair or replacement. This maintenance or repair can be expensive, especially if the technology is constantly being upgraded. In addition, some technologies require specialized training for personnel to operate or maintain them. All of these issues affect the overall cost of a particular technology.