What is technology? In this lesson, you’ll learn the answer to that question and discover the many types of technology that we use, from the simple to the complex. When you are through, take a short quiz to test your understanding.


What is Technology?

When you think of the word ‘technology‘, what comes to mind? It might sound like something from a sci-fi show, or something that has to run on electricity. Technology makes us think of the very complex, but energy doesn’t have to be complex.

Technologyis the use of scientific knowledge for practical purposes or applications, whether in industry or in our everyday lives. So, basically, whenever we use our scientific knowledge to achieve some specific purpose, we’re using technology. Well, there is slightly more to it than that. Technology usually involves a specific piece of equipment, but that equipment can be incredibly simple or dazzlingly complex. It can be anything from the discovery of the wheel, all the way up to computers and MP3 players.

Types of Technology

Since technology can be so simple or so complex, there are many types of technology. One type is mechanical technology, which includes wheels, cams, levers, gears, belts, and engines. Things that turn, or allow motion in one direction to cause a different kind of motion, are mechanical. The wheel is probably one of the most important technological advances in human history, and yet it’s super simple.

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Perhaps the type of technology that we’re most familiar with in modern life is electronic technology, usually just called electronics, which is a complex form of technology that uses electric circuits to achieve a goal. Electric circuits can also vary in complexity. If you have a look at a circuit board with dozens of apparently random pathways mixed in with various components, you know how complex electronics can be. But, anything that runs on electricity is electronic. This includes computers, washing machines, dryers, MP3 players, car radios, televisions—anything you plug into the wall outlet. You can also split technology into types based on purpose. There’s industrial and manufacturing technology, medical technology, communications technology, and others.

Industrial and manufacturing technology is technology with the goal of either producing a product on a large scale, or performing another large-scale function where customers are not directly present. For example, you might be manufacturing cars or generating electricity. Cars are created using mechanical robots, which is very advanced technology.

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Medical technology is technology that serves the purpose of diagnosing, treating, or preventing disease. This can include things like MRI scanners, which take images of the inside of the human body; ventilators, which breathe for people; or even simply drugs and medicines that people take to make them better.

Technology concerns itself with understanding how knowledge is creatively applied to organised tasks involving people and machines that meet sustainable goals. There are three important aspects to this definition:

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1. Technology is about taking action to meet a human need rather than merely understanding the workings of the natural world, which is the goal of science. The invention of the microscope was driven by a need to explore the world of the small, beyond our unaided vision. This technological solution to a long standing problem has in turn enabled us to understand more the workings of the world which in turn has led to the development of more technologies.

2. It uses much more than scientific knowledge and includes values as much as facts, practical craft knowledge as much as theoretical knowledge. The iPod is an example of where the physics of making a small device carry so much music is married with creative design to make an iconic must have accessory.

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3. It involves organized ways of doing things. It covers the intended and unintended interactions between products (machines, devices, artifacts) and the people and systems who make them, use them or are affected by them through various processes. Many people like to drink coffee, often in a coffee shop. That coffee may have come from trees which have been bred specifically for increased yields that support a small farmer and his family but that requires pesticides that were developed and manufactured in another country.

The harvested coffee beans will themselves be transported around the world, to be processed and placed in packages which are are distributed to shops that then make the cup of coffee in a polystyrene cup that was manufactured for the purpose but which then needs to disposed of and so on. Every choice we make relies on, and feeds, a highly interdependent and far reaching way of life where some have much and some have little.

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Technology is a hands on, can do profession where people have to be skilled in many of the following: engineering, communicating, designing, developing, innovating, managing, manufacturing, modelling, and systems thinking. But technology also gives us various products which can be used for good or ill or where the benefits are disputed and similarly the processes involved in producing and using technology means that we should all take an interest in whether it provides us and eveyone else with a sustainable future

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Let’s look at some famous quotes about technology that may somehow get us closer to the answer:

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
― Arthur C. Clarke


“The real danger is not that computers will begin to think like men, but that men will begin to think like computers.”
― Sydney J. Harris

Interesting. Implies an important role for the right side of the brain, not just the analytical left brained stuff.

“The best way to predict the future is to invent it”
Alan Kay

The bold mind of an innovator.

“There are cameras nowadays that have been developed to tell the difference between a squirrel and a bomb.”
― George W. Bush

OK, how did that get in here?

Perhaps the best way to look at technology is in terms of progress. In many ways, the world simply gets better because technology has the ability to create a higher standard of living. A vaccine eliminated polio. The internet breaks down social, racial and sexual barriers. Computers provide better access to education. But is it always true that more technology is the answer to the world’s problems?

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Not according to tech legend Bill Gates. Gates say that while the dream of providing internet access to the billions of people who do not have it is a noble one, is isn’t even close to being as important as ensuring that more people have proper plumbing, or access to vaccinations against infectious diseases.

What Does Technology Do?

At the center of much disarray in the reasoning about the alleged Information Society lie extraordinary, frequently unchecked suppositions about the job of innovation in the related social/monetary/social changes. There is a wide understanding that data has turned into the absolute most vital asset for progressively huge divisions of society. It is likewise generally perceived that these parts are subject to and affected by an innovation escalated data and correspondence foundation. About the job and hugeness of the innovation or its outcomes, be that as it may, the assessments are incredibly different.

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Three distinct ideas about this job can be recognized generally. The job of innovation in a post-pioneer account is one of having made a condition which breaks down the very fundaments of advancement, all inclusiveness and the steady referentiality of the sign. This is the absolute most essential impact of innovation and the investigations of this impact regularly outweigh inquiries of how this condition came to fruition or how it is kept up. Incomprehensibly, while for the most part basic to the idea of a cognizant reality, the truth of innovation is, all things considered, underestimated and the implications of the recently made hyper-the truth are exhibited as the advantaged perspective from which the present circumstance must be comprehended. The supporting social or monetary plans are of less intrigue in light of the expected freedom of the media reality and just as the fracturation of observation.

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Innovation is underestimated in an alternate sense in those perspectives which conceptualize it as the key operator. Here innovation normally remains toward the start of the record which examines into the effect of the innovation. This thought of innovation as the unchangeable on-screen character underlies the techno-utopians of the “Californian philosophy” just as the traditionalist pundits who declare the demise of the common society. This is likewise to some degree confusing. On the off chance that innovation is the key specialist in the public eye, at that point depicting it as an outside fixed and decontaminated framework makes it difficult to represent one of the principle attributes of the key operator, its social measurements.

In a shockingly comparative manner, innovation is outer additionally in records for which the social foundations are the deciding key performing artist in the public eye. In this view, innovation is outer to society until it is put into utilization by predominant social performing artists to encourage their exercises and grow their impact. This point of view underlies most reasoning of political economy or by and large of liberal foundation. What joins those three points of view to a specific degree is that they all view innovation as a thing, either as the specialist or as the apparatus.

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Daniel Bell in the mid seventies and Manuel Castells in the late nineties set forward a fairly unique idea of the job of innovation in the public eye. For them, innovation is essentially a procedure that creates in parallel to other social procedures with results that are then coordinated (and balanced) by social performing artists so as to propel their motivation. This can subvert the exercises of the overwhelming social on-screen characters and decline their impact or it can extend it. Focal in this idea is the possibility of a profound interpenetration of society and innovation without conflating them into one, or privileging one over the other. Castells stresses that “innovation does not decide society: it epitomizes it. Be that as it may, neither does society decide mechanical advancement: it utilizes it. [There is a] persuasive connection among society and innovation”. Lamentably he doesn’t inconvenience to detail to how this epitome occurs. I think, notwithstanding, this is the intriguing thing to ask with regards to request to comprehend the job of innovation in the present social changes.

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In the Information Society innovation and society do interpenetrate each other to such a broaden, that they can’t be isolated any longer. Taking a gander at society, one finds that innovation assumes a job in practically the majority of its viewpoints. By researching innovation one finds the social course of action, those which it epitomizes and those in which it is connected. It is hence important to consider innovation and society in the meantime as they winding into and out of one another. To comprehend the job of innovation it appears to be encouraging to conceptualize innovation as a procedure in which society is revamping itself into ever new structures. One can think about this as happening in two stages: another course of action of heterogeneous components – some of them are institutional, some of them are specialized and others are social – balances out in new mechanical antiques. These antiques open up new conceivable outcomes of getting things done and, during the time spent putting the ancient rarities to utilize, they are activated. Every now and again, this happens in unexpected ways. This at that point changes the game plan of heterogeneous components, which is then carried into another steady association with another arrangement of relics: __Technology is Society Made Durable__, so the title of one of Bruno Latour’s papers.

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Inside innovation, a huge however set number of heterogeneous performing artists are sew into a system which enables one to get things done in a manner by which they have not been done previously. The procedures of adjustment of such a system happen amid the development of an innovation. When the innovation has balanced out, the systems still must be effectively kept up. This upkeep is the everyday utilization of the innovation, in which the system is reenacted again and again. Innovation, at that point, gives a phase plan to society by being a blue print – like culture or a common esteem framework – of how to get things done again and again, in a reproducible way. In contrast to culture or shared esteem frameworks, this blue print is implanted in things and not in individuals. Be that as it may, individuals and things together, in the entirety of their interrelations, structure society.

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During the time spent getting things done in a manner by which they have not been done previously, on-screen characters start to change as well as new ones emerge. The reenactment of the system may turn out to be increasingly more troublesome as the performers transform. Existing systems may break down – advancements do vanish – and different systems, different innovations set up. Mechanical change, at that point, is the reconfiguration of (portions of the) general public winding up incidentally stable in new innovations.

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