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What Is Technology? Definition and Discussion

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What Is Technology?

Think back to 2015. It’s safe to say that the way the year was depicted in Back to the Future II was a considerable overestimation. While there are still no signs of a flying car or self-tying shoes that seem to be on the precipice of innovation, one thing is clear: technology continues to dictate our lives. At this point, it has become a part of our nature that we’d rather immediately accept than seek to understand. Many would be stumped by the first step to understanding technology: being able to define technology. Technology is an entity that represents knowledge applied to a form of function, that provides an advantage moving forward. Most of technology is created for a pursuit of convenience, and to allow the user to develop a practical understanding of anything in particular. Much of our population has the belief that technology is limited to electronic objects. This leads many to claim that the perceived “technology obsession” facing current generations was not pre-existing.

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What defines something as technology cannot demand a scientific, calculated makeup (Dusek 35). Just as knowledge, the possible devices of technology are infinite. Genres including art, literature, health, and history all offer an endless range of concepts and mechanics that something could serve as technology for. Essentially, any sort of formation to exist in this world could be classified as technology, to at least one person who could find some use in it. When society as a whole can find a common advantage in a concept, this concept is utilized and modified as greater knowledge of and experience with it is gained. It is in this way that technology has advanced for centuries.

With such an open-ended definition, one thing about technology can be considered concrete: it is always growing. The constant expansion of knowledge in society is what allows it to modify or even spawn ideas. At one point, millions of years ago, the ability to make fire using wood was considered technology. In that primitive era of life, society was able to use fire making as an advantage. Using fire as a source of light and heat redefined how the people of that time went about their lives. Natural material including wood and stone were utilized as building blocks for shelters and furniture. These early innovations themselves were building blocks for the mechanism of technology.

Many people, particularly those of pre-millenial generations, have the opinion that “technology is ruining society”. For example, the growing prominence of social media has seemingly created a new, internet-based world for any individual. The recent developments in smartphone technology have enhanced the phone into a passage to this new world, easily accessible by any smartphone user. Whether or not this is a detrimental issue has been debated on numerous occasions. Those who do not understand the true meaning of technology have not grasped that there will always be some sort of trade-off with any new presentation, no matter what. Another concrete fact about technology is that it will always come with some benefits and some losses (Postman, Five Things We Need To Know About Technological Change).

There are so many little things, considered advancements in technology hundreds to thousands of years ago, that have been continuously used at the cost of something. In order to have paper, trees must be cut down. In order to acquire particular nutrition, animals are killed. The way that we have been using fuel continues to tarnish the ozone layer. These are all advancements that harm nature in some way. If not for the development of the television, perhaps obesity rates would be substantially lower. However, the constant modification and generation process that exists within technology is necessary for society to grow. The problem underlies in the fact that people often fail to recognize what had been introduced years ago and is still used today is still considered technology. This means that they have pros and cons just like the technology being introduced today.

Some would argue that technology does not provide an actual advantage, but that it only creates a different, unnecessary way to do something. Wendell Berry voiced his reason for not upgrading to a computer from a typewriter being that “nobody has used a computer to write a work that is demonstrably better than Dante’s” (Berry, Why I Am Not Going To Buy A Computer). The principles of deep ecology argue that humans have successfully inhabited the planet for centuries without technology that is as detrimental to nature as that of today (Dusek 187). Perhaps the use and dependence on technology has given us the delusion that we need it to live just as we have always needed nature.

It can be confirmed however, that there is no delusion associated with technology. The value of what we have gained in all genres is priceless. Eventually, the advantages that are implied by technology will amount to a point in which former costs of technology can be hindered, or even eliminated. Those who feel that we have no need for advancing technology can be compared to Plato’s depicted prisoners in the cave, who would have no capacity to understand the truth until they were shown the light of day. Just as the ancient time period in which fire was discovered, the current digital age will be that of simpletons relative to a new dynamic of technology years into the future. It is then that naysayers will be longing for a lifestyle probably much more advanced than that of today. In doing so, they will be contradicting themselves, and confirming the definition of technology.

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