“For a list of all the ways technology has failed to improve the quality of life, please press three.”
— Alice Kahn
The word technology comes from two Greek words, τέχνη, techne, “art, skill, craft, the cunning of hand” and λόγος lógos, “account, explanation, narrative, word, utterance”, the way of saying something. So, literally, technology means words or discourse about the way things are gained and in most cases, it is a consequence of science and engineering. It has changed its meaning many times through the history, especially within last 200 years. Nowadays, Merriam-Webster Learner’s Dictionary may offer the best definition: “The use of science in industry, engineering, etc., to invent useful things or to solve problems”.
In the essence simplest examples of technology are basic tools. The discovery of how to create and control fire increased the available sources of food. The invention of the wheel helped humans to transport goods, travel and later shape and control their environment. Thruout, the historical development of the printing press, the telegraph, the telephone, the radio, and the Internet, overcame physical barriers to communication. It means that humans are now capable to interact on a global scale. Did we all become one great hive? Is there a Queen? Those are not questions for this article.
There is a thin sometimes even invisible line making a distinction between science, engineering, and technology. I like to say that from a case to a case, where one ends another one starts, or they even flow together.
By definition, science is systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation.
Engineering by definition is the application of physics, mathematics, and other scientific branches of knowledge to invent, innovate, design, build, maintain, research, and improve structures, machines, tools, systems, components, materials, processes, solutions, organizations and much more. On the SET Triangle, or as I like to call it Triangle of progress it is possible to see the relation of those three.
In modern days it would mean the way of using a mind, creativity, and skills to shape and combine some resources in order to create something that makes life easier, helps make progress, speed up something, create new or better way things are done. Science uses it, engineering uses it, and it is created as the result of science and engineering. At the end, it is a triple win situation resulting in opportunities for a progress of the mankind. I intentionally did not say that it necessarily leads to progress since it does not. Using the Technology in the wrong way is unfortunately often. For example, explosives are the piece of technology. Using them for mining may be progressing while using it for killing seems like at least a moral regression. A wise man said: “Fool with the tool is still a fool”.
Not long ago I wrote an article about how technology can help during rough times like war. Technology created destruction driven by war, and at the same time, it helped to survive it. So there is an obvious paradox there and I would say that humanity these days more than ever should seek decency more than anything else including the technology.
Thank you for reading.