Technology is the totality of any methods, tools, systems, and procedures utilized in the creation of products or services or in the achievement of specific objectives, including scientific experimentation. In the broadest sense, technology can be seen to include all known means by which human beings interact with each other and with the physical universe. Technological progress has led to the unprecedented achievement of numerous technological possibilities. However, with the growing complexity of modern life and the associated increase in societal complexity, the scope of technology has become limited. Consequently, the development of new technologies is necessarily ongoing, complex, and evolving.
There are three areas in which advances in science and technology currently occur: practical application, scientific research, and engineering or construction activities. Practical applications refers to the myriad of new technologies that make up the many products of modern life. Scientific research deals largely with the more fundamental questions of how living things work and what they can do. Engineering or constructional activities, on the other hand, address larger issues, like how to build the largest and most functional computer or the fastest train. As you read this article, note that we are dealing with three very different areas of technological development.
As mentioned above, the scope of technological change is constantly changing as it is driven by scientific and technological progress. However, one thing that remains constant is the increasing complexity of society and the need to improve knowledge and solve problems. Thus, even though practical progress encompasses many technological endeavors, the most practical of these endeavors is the improvement of our understanding of how life works. This includes scientific research that helps to define the physical world and describe its properties and processes, problem solving that results in the design of useful and practical technologies, and the use of knowledge and education to improve particular areas of society.
The improvement of scientific knowledge is critical to improving the quality of human life. Through scientific research, we are able to learn about the structure of the universe and the workings of its various parts, about the origins and properties of life, about the origin of technology, and about the effect of climate on human life. In so doing, we become better equipped to understand, control, and utilize those tools and means that science has taught us. While progress is necessarily progressive, the improvement of scientific knowledge is the ultimate aim of technological change.
On the other hand, technological change refers to the consistent development of new and technically advanced methods and devices for realizing the same ends that science seeks to achieve. Such devices typically include information and communication technologies, transportation technologies, manufacturing technologies, information systems, and information management systems. These are all areas that have been effectively brought to the technological stage through a combination of scientific knowledge and technological innovation. The impact of such innovations on society as a whole is not something that can be ignored.
Technological change refers to the systematic development of new and technically advanced technologies for realizing the same ends that science seeks to achieve. Such technologies generally fall into one of three categories: biological, informational, or energy. Within each category, there are subcategories that further break down the subject matter into smaller and more defined areas.