What is Technology?

The year is 2084. Primary mode of transportation is flying cars. This move has freed up all the space that was being used by the roads and highways for construction of buildings. Highways have become skyways. The concept of roads don't exist as the flying cars are self-flying and coordinate amongst themselves to navigate the path at speeds lower than what is used in skyways. Due to efficiencies of shorter distance between all points, cities have started to take the shape of domes. The food average people take on a daily basis has become capsules that either could be consumed orally or by injection shots. The food options of the earlier part of the century is still available in select premium location, but it is way too expensive for regular consumption for an average person. The outfits people wear have taken on a body suit form, that is temperature controlled and self-adjusts its configurations for the best comfort and/or the best performance of the user. It does also monitor all vital stats of the user and ensures short and long-term health benefits. Everyone has one or more of androids (the real one), to be their personal assistant, and takes care of all needs of its owner.

Good or bad, what has made all of these things possible? The one-word answer is - Technology. While the world does not look anything similar to this today, it slowly moving towards this form. Granted that all of this may not still happen by 2084, or things may still look very different in 2084. But, one thing is for sure, the world would look very different in 2084. And a good portion of that change will be the result of technology.

To find some evidence you don't have to look far beyond - look at the stock market. Technology stocks are doing very well in the market. Check out news media - a good portion of it has some form of technology involved in it - be it guns, germs, steel, voting machines, emails, self-driving cars, or even the border wall. Today, everyone wants a piece of the technology pie.

And if you are reading this post, technology has player its role in delivering it to you. But, do we really understand what technology is?

Definitions

As usual, let us start by looking at its definition in some important sources from around the internet. Below are the definitions of Technology from three sources:

Wikipedia

The Wikipedia wiki on the topic of technology defines it as:

Technology is the collection of techniques, skills, methods, and processes used in the production of goods or services or in the accomplishment of objectives, such as scientific investigation.

Technology can be the knowledge of techniques, processes, and the like, or it can be embedded in machines to allow for operation without detailed knowledge of their workings.

The simplest form of technology is the development and use of basic tools.

Dictionary.com

On the other hand, Dictionary.com defines technology as:

  • The branch of knowledge that deals with the creation and use of technical means and their interrelation with life, society, and the environment, drawing upon such subjects as industrial arts, engineering, applied science, and pure science.

  • The application of this knowledge for practical ends.

  • The terminology of an art, science, etc.; technical nomenclature.

  • A scientific or industrial process, invention, method, or the like.

  • The sum of the ways in which social groups provide themselves with the material objects of their civilization.

Merriam Webster.com

And finally, let's look at Merriam Webster.com's definition of technology:

  • the practical application of knowledge especially in a particular area: engineering 2 medical technology

  • a capability given by the practical application of knowledge: a car's fuel-saving technology

  • a manner of accomplishing a task especially using technical processes, methods, or knowledge: new technologies for information storage

  • the specialized aspects of a particular field of endeavor: educational technology

Summary

Obviously, the definitions above cover a variety of perspectives on what technology is. But, they point to a singular definition at its core. This is how I conclude that definition which stands at the core of it all:

Technology is the practical application of scientific knowledge.

Now, it is a short statement, but it goes very deep with three keywords - application, scientific and knowledge.

An Alternative Definition

This practical application of scientific knowledge allows technology to extend human capabilities, beyond what is naturally possible. Though I have mentioned human specifically, it is possible to extent capabilities of any being (be it organic or inorganic). There in, we could define technology also as:

Anything (typically a tool or process) that allows us to extend our natural capabilities by use of an artificial means.

This definition is a derivation of the earlier one. But, just because of the way it has been phrased, it allows better exploration of examples and applications, which we'll cover in a subsequent post.

Sid Barthakur