Technology is the application of scientific knowledge to develop tools, devices and systems that make life easier and better for people. It is an essential part of every society and has shaped human culture. Examples include the development of farming techniques that helped increase populations; gunpowder and explosives that changed the way war is waged; and computers and software that have revolutionized how we work, play, learn, communicate, and govern.
Many technological innovations spread or disappear on the basis of free-market forces, with individuals and companies often choosing to adopt or not to use a new technology for personal or business reasons. However, sometimes technologies become controversial and may be subject to public debate and formal regulation. These have included contour plowing, vaccines, and nuclear power plants.
Almost any industry uses some form of technology to help streamline their processes or compete with their competitors. Information technology, or IT, is one of the fastest-growing areas of business and encompasses computer hardware and software, telecommunications, and other infrastructure. The field is also rapidly changing, with cloud computing and other trends reshaping IT departments.
Medical and healthcare professionals use a variety of technology to monitor patients’ health and improve treatment options. Increasingly, they rely on sensors in devices such as smartwatches and fitness trackers to provide information about heart rates and sleep patterns. Some technology is implanted directly into the body, providing even more detailed data to medical professionals.
Other types of technology are used to make it possible for humans to explore the far reaches of the universe and to interact with other planets and the surrounding environment. These technologies include telescopes, satellites that are able to pinpoint locations on Earth, and other instruments designed for space exploration.
Construction is another area that relies heavily on technology to build and maintain structures. There are two basic categories of construction: buildings and heavy engineering structures. Buildings can be anything from houses to warehousing. Heavy engineering structures are much larger and more complex, such as skyscrapers or stadiums. The construction of these kinds of structures requires the use of technology to design them and to create the materials that are needed for them to stand up to the elements.
All technology involves trade-offs between benefits and side effects. Engineers are responsible for estimating these effects and developing methods to minimize them. They must consider all of the factors involved in a given project, including economics, market, production, technical, and environmental criteria, and then compare and evaluate all proposed solutions through testing, modeling, graphics, and mathematical analysis. This process helps them select the best technological solution to a problem and make it available to the rest of the organization. Other important factors that influence technological decisions are political, ethical, and social concerns. These are often considered when making technology proposals to management or government.