A Discussion About Technology and Society
Technology is an interesting subset of science that has had a tremendous impact on society. Technological change is sometimes rapid enough to affect entire industries, or can be moderate and gradual. The impact of technology is most often felt in two areas: computer technology and information technology. Computer technology refers to the range of hardware and software that help a computer process information. Information technology is concerned with the design, development, maintenance, support, storage, optimization, distribution, and marketing of computer networks.
Technological change has contributed to nearly every aspect of our lives. Examples include: the development of mobile phones with increased memory capacity, digital cameras that can create high-resolution images, personal digital assistants that perform a variety of normal office duties, the development of automobiles that run on batteries rather than gasoline, solar panels that convert sunlight into electricity, and the medical field where prosthetics and other technologies have allowed the recovery of human bodies that were damaged by accidents or disease. All these examples demonstrate the profound impact that technological change can have on society. Some of the technologies underlying these examples were developed using scientific principles. For instance, computer systems that process data via logic are scientific products.
As previously mentioned, technological change occurs as a result of scientific knowledge. Scientific knowledge about the physical world is accumulated and analyzed over time. Over time this accumulated scientific knowledge has influenced how technological systems operate. New technologies do not appear as purely natural phenomena. They require a foundation of scientific knowledge in order to emerge as truly useful.
Another example of technological innovation is an improvement in scientific knowledge. If, for example, new technological systems are developed that make it easier to produce fuel for automobiles, more people will use them. If, for example, new technological systems are developed that make it easier to produce food, more people will eat it. Both of these examples require scientific knowledge to be improved in order to produce useful products.
A third example of technological innovation is the invention of new technology driven by science and technology. In the case of genetic engineering, an idea for a new technology is generated by someone with specific biological characteristics. Then, in order to produce the product, some changes are made in the genetic code of this particular person. The geneticist who produces the new technology relies on scientific knowledge to ensure that the processes used are safe and effective. Once the product is released into the market, a number of people must test it to ensure that it works.
Many questions remain unanswered about the effect of science and technology on society. However, the impact of scientific knowledge on the way we live is undeniable. Many products of science and technology were produced because they answered fundamental questions that remained unanswered for years. Examples include x-ray machines, the radio, television, and the Internet. Technological innovation has contributed to the quality of life by improving health care, creating jobs, providing entertainment, and providing information.