Technology is the combination of any man-made systems, practices, and methods employed in the creation of products or services or in the achievement of specific goals, including scientific discovery. It may involve physical processes like creation, modification, observation, or it may refer to the information processing involved in transforming data into an output or a process. In modern society, technology is so pervasive that people almost always consider it when they talk about something that they do or that they use. This has led many people, especially those in leadership positions, to question the definition of technology. Is technology a concept that can be used to describe reality, or is it just something that is part of the human domain?
The definitions of technology are changing all the time. The Oxford Dictionary defines technology as the “use of machines for the purpose of conducting human activities,” and this definition has little to do with how technology actually affects society. Instead, the Oxford Dictionary focuses on technology as the means of doing things, or as the method by which things are done, as opposed to the actual thing itself. The dictionary definition continues this line of thinking with technology as the means of communication, education, mass production, engineering, communication, work, transportation, and a host of other technological fields. One might even get the idea that the dictionary definition is the most accurate because it gives readers a clear sense of technology’s influence on society. Unfortunately, the Oxford definition of technology is almost a century old, and it still doesn’t reflect the pace at which technology changes today.
Many people think that the definition of technology is fixed, but technology is continuously changing. For example, while Thomas Alva Edison’s electric lighting represented one of the major advances in technology when he was alive, his innovations later changed the face of lighting in many ways. Just consider the way personal computers and their related technologies changed the world. People and businesses can learn from the past and current developments in technology and formulates new technology based on these changes.
Another way technology changes is through government policy. While there are some areas of government spending that are impossible to control, there are also plenty of examples where technological developments are implemented to improve services and make life easier for citizens. Consider the use of GPS devices, public utilities, cell phones, and more to name a few examples where new technology is implemented in order to help make lives easier and less expensive.
In order for technology to change the definition of technology, something must occur that can be considered as a positive change. When this happens, the definition will need to be updated. Some think that the definition should be changed to say that technology is always changing, but I disagree because technology has been changing for quite some time.
Some believe that the definition should be altered to state that technology has changed so dramatically over the last 100 years that it no longer meets the criteria for what it actually is. This type of argument could be used to challenge whether technology has truly changed, but it would be hard to argue against the fact that technology has improved dramatically. When debating this issue, make sure you know what you are talking about.