Technology is the combination of processes, tools, machines, and skills used in the creation of new products or services or in the achievement of specific goals, including scientific research. Technologists are engaged in science, engineering, computer science, applied physics, or any other area of the scientific and technological field. They use scientific knowledge to improve the quality and performance of human activities and improve the environment through design, construction, maintenance, technology deployment, and communication.
In this paper, we will discuss four broad categories of technological systems. These categories are scientific, engineering, operational, and economic. In scientific technological systems, the scientific knowledge about the nature and properties of physical reality is used to create new and improved scientific and technological knowledge and to test and verify the theories of the underlying scientific discipline. The techniques and methods used to analyze and test these new theories are calling scientific techniques and methods. The results of these scientific techniques and methods are then applied to specific practical problems in order to provide solutions for real world problems.
The second broad category of scientific systems is engineering. In the study of engineering, we speak of a wide range of disciplines including systems analysis, systems design, systems management, and engineering technologies. In these fields, one finds that people learn about various physical, chemical, and social properties of matter as they develop methods to learn how to efficiently design, build, and maintain technological systems capable of providing society with a variety of goods and services. These systems are then used to solve practical problems in society.
The third broad category of technological systems is the cultural approach. Within the cultural approach to technology, there are three main areas: systems thinking, creativity, and values and attitudes. System thinking is a way of approaching technology as a tool that can be used to solve particular problems, while creativity is more of an attitude and a set of beliefs about the usefulness of technology. Systems thinking and creativity, then, support and promote technological change and improvement, but they also can justify and criticize technological decisions. The last category, values and attitudes, involve not only the assessment of technological systems, but also the evaluation of the societal effects of technological systems and their effects on individuals and society.
The fourth major type of technological systems is information technology. This is probably the most dynamic and most diverse of the entire techno genre. In fact, the term itself is rather vague, as it can be used to refer to any number of different technologies. One might think of it more accurately as a subdivision of the humanities, where artists, writers, linguists, technologists, and others with relevant expertise to create and develop technological systems for the purposes of expression, information, and interaction. This is in addition to the more conventional fields of science and engineering, which are examples of the analytic category of techne. In this classification, new technologies are considered and critiqued in light of their potential use as well as their social and environmental impacts.
Although there has been an increase in the use of the term technology in the twenty-first century, the definition has been somewhat distorted by the growth of applied science and engineering disciplines, which many philosophers decried as being nothing more than forms of technology in and of themselves. In truth, there is little in the twentieth century that has not been touched in some way by technology. As philosophy, literature, and the arts become more involved in technology studies, the term technology will likely become less vague in the future.