What Is Technology?

Technology is a broad term that refers to the application of scientific knowledge for human purposes. It encompasses many different fields, including science, engineering and math. Specifically, it refers to the use of tools and systems that exploit natural phenomena for practical human ends.

While it may seem that the distinction between science and technology is obvious, there are differences between these two concepts. Science involves reasoned investigation of phenomena to discover enduring principles. In contrast, engineering is goal-oriented and focuses on using results and techniques from science to achieve practical outcomes.

Business technologies include the software, hardware and services that businesses use to manage their operations. These can range from communication, customer service and accounting tools to inventory management and marketing technology tools.

Another type of technology is automation, which reduces manual work and increases productivity by automating repetitive tasks. For example, a computer can perform many calculations in an instant; a machine can replace repetitive machining steps; or a database program can update data without requiring manual entry.

Regardless of the field, there is always room for technology to improve the human condition. Some movements, such as neo-Luddism and anarcho-primitivism, criticize the pervasiveness of modern technology; others, such as transhumanism and techno-progressivism, advocate continued technological progress.

A common criticism of technology is that it is dehumanizing, alienating, and harmful to the environment. This has given rise to philosophies such as the eco-village movement and Jacques Ellul’s notion of appropriate technology. Other critics are concerned that the pursuit of technological advancements is uncontrolled and unchecked, a view known as technological determinism.