Technology is the application of scientific knowledge to practical aims such as changing or manipulating the environment. It has a broad scope, including information technology, industrial technology, and the science of food production. It can also be used as a general term for the tools that humans use to accomplish tasks, such as hand tools and power tools.
The development and use of technology have had significant social, economic, environmental, and political impacts. Many of these are derived from the societal and cultural values of a particular time and place, as well as from the technological choices made by individuals and businesses. Some technologies have created a positive impact while others have had negative consequences. Some examples of beneficial technology include advances in agriculture, health care, communication, and manufacturing. Examples of negative technologies include the spread of infectious diseases, weapons of mass destruction, and ecological degradation.
Computer systems and software are often the first things that come to mind when people think of technology. These systems provide a number of business applications, from e-commerce to data management and storage. They can also facilitate collaboration and communication across organizational boundaries and improve productivity.
Other important technology includes medical and military devices. Doctors may use computers to record patient information and monitor a person’s condition. Patients can now use Wi-Fi and smartphone apps to track their own health and communicate with doctors. Military technology has made it possible to monitor a person’s location with GPS.
Scientific research is another area in which technology plays a critical role. Scientists often rely on technology to measure, treat, and analyze samples and to perform complex calculations. The invention of the electronic computer has revolutionized many fields of study, enabling researchers to gather and analyze vast amounts of data much faster than ever before.
In addition to providing the “eyes” and “muscle” of science, technology allows scientists to access remote locations that would be impossible to reach without it. Some important lines of research that would not be possible without technology include climate change, genetic mutation, and cellular biology.
Although most technological innovations spread on the basis of free-market forces, there are times when a particular technology becomes an issue that is subject to public debate and possibly formal regulation. Contour plowing, vaccination, genetic engineering, and nuclear power are just a few examples of technologies that have become controversial. Occasionally, even small everyday technologies have unexpected side effects, such as the tiny leak of a refrigerator that can significantly increase the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. As such, it is important for both companies and their employees to be aware of these issues so that they can respond in a way that minimizes them.