Technology is a complex concept that covers a broad range of activities and tools. The term is usually used to refer to the development of machines and systems that exploit natural phenomena for practical human means, but it can also apply to a wide variety of other human activity, such as writing and publishing (see information technology). The discipline that deals with the study of technologies is called science or engineering.
It is important to understand how new technologies emerge, evolve and impact on people’s everyday lives – not just for those who develop them, but for all those who use them. This is because technology is more than a set of tools; it is a way of understanding how knowledge is creatively applied to organised tasks involving people and machines in order to achieve sustainable goals.
The most familiar examples of technology are the devices that allow communication between humans, and the machines that have replaced many manual labour tasks. These include telephones, televisions, computers and the Internet. However, new technologies are not always adopted quickly by society, and often require extensive training for users. Many of these devices have had a significant effect on the environment, and the way humans interact with each other and with the natural world.
Technological advancements are continually redefining how businesses conduct their internal operations and interact with customers. By implementing avant-garde tools and technologies, organizations are able to streamline their internal processes and expedite production cycles, thereby enabling them to offer high quality products and services at competitive prices. Technology has also allowed them to become more visible over the internet and accessible to customers.
In the past, the development of technologies was driven by a need to solve practical problems. These included improving agricultural productivity, providing safer and easier methods of transportation, and developing reliable ways to store and transmit information. The technology that has evolved over time includes machines that are designed to do a single task, such as an adding machine or typewriter, and general purpose computers that can be programmed for a variety of tasks.
In the more recent history of human technological evolution, not all developments have been beneficial. The invention of weapons has made warfare more destructive and less controllable, and global communications have enabled humans to connect on a much larger scale. The notion of appropriate technology has emerged as a result, with many communities rejecting the adoption of technologies that require expensive infrastructure or the import of parts and skills.