Technological innovation has a broad social impact, shaped by government policy and society values. In the United States, social forces influence technological options, including government policy, patent laws, and local regulations. Consumer acceptance, media attention, economic competition, and scientific discoveries also influence technological innovations. However, the relationship between technological innovation and economic growth is less clear. Many historians and economists have observed that innovation and competitiveness are closely linked. Despite this fact, economics has not yet adequately addressed the effects of technology on economic growth.
For centuries, the evolution of technology has been an integral part of human culture. One of the earliest evidences of human culture is the earliest use of tools. In more modern times, technology has influenced the evolution of civilizations and is often tied to science and engineering. However, technology is not the same as science, and it is an incredibly complex social enterprise. Several different stages are involved, including research, design, manufacturing, marketing, and management.
The term “technology” has its roots in the Indo-European word tek, which probably referred to a process of building a wooden house through wattling. The term textile also sounds very similar to technology, which is why the word textile is often used in a modern context. Similarly, the Greek word “techne” originally referred to woodworking, but later widened to encompass any form of expertise involving artificial things. Hippocrates, Aristotle, and others regarded rhetoric as a form of techne.
Many everyday technologies have their own side effects, both positive and negative. For example, refrigerators have positive effects on diets and food distribution systems, but they have also been implicated in substantial adverse impacts on the earth’s atmosphere. The refrigerator has an unavoidable effect on the food distribution system and diet, but it also has numerous leaks that affect its environment. In some cases, these leaks are accompanied by environmental and political factors. So, technology and human factors must be considered in order to avoid technological failures.
Technology criticism often comes from dystopian literature. For example, George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World have emphasized the negative effects of technological progress. Several authors have interpreted Faust by Goethe as a metaphor for industrial technology. However, a more recent author has expanded on this idea and written a book extending Schatzberg’s 2006 article, “Technology and Its Future”. This book will be an indispensable text for years to come.
In many ways, technology serves as a catalyst for science. For example, a technological problem such as improving the efficiency of steam engines inspired the development of the theory of conservation of energy. Another example is genetic engineering, which motivated the mapping of gene locations. Further, technology is also a means to further our understanding of human nature. There is no denying the role of technology in our world, but the questions it raises are as wide as the problems it solves.
While individuals are rarely placed to ask such questions about technology on a public level, they may be in a position to do so by considering the technologies they use. Individual decisions can affect the use of technology as much as public pressure. Ultimately, it is up to the individual to make the best choices for their own well-being and to protect the environment. So, what should you do? The answer is not just technology, but your own lifestyle. Let your values guide you.