The word technology indicates the techniques used to produce objects and improve the living conditions of man: it is therefore not just about concrete realizations, but also about abstract procedures. Technology has a very close link with science, of which it is not a simple application aspect. The history of technology is intertwined with the history of humanity: in particular, in the last few centuries, technological progress has begun to run at ever greater speeds
Not just what’s new
When we think of technology we are probably thinking of the most modern products on the industrial market: computers that are increasingly powerful, versatile and light; more sophisticated cars; tools to reproduce sound and images with high quality. In reality these are mostly the results of the development of new technologies, while the word has a broader meaning. With technology, in fact, more than the set of single objects, we indicate the development of tools or machines with which a problem has been solved or an aspect of our daily life has been improved. In this sense, the development of the very first tools in prehistoric times, from the first bone needles for sewing to the first clay pots, represents a technological advance.
Today with the word technology we mean more generally the combined use of different disciplines – from the most abstract such as mathematics to the most practical such as engineering – used to make the production of new goods and tools as efficient and economical as possible. This last definition describes in particular the role of technology in today’s advanced societies and makes us understand why we can also speak of technologies in fields where there is no development of material products, but only of procedures., as in the case of food production and preservation technologies – in which it is the procedure (sterilization, freezing) that gives the product technological value – or of information technologies – which create software, i.e. intangible products.
The innovations introduced by new technologies tend to cause profound changes in societies, modifying traditions, ways of proceeding and even the culture of a population. This has been true since ancient times, just think of the fact that we classify the first historical periods on the basis of the technologies developed: Stone Age, Iron Age, Bronze Age. Today the phenomenon of globalization means that the changes introduced by new technologies spread much more rapidly from one society to another, which represents an opportunity, but it is also a source of serious adaptation problems for some cultures.
Technology: is it good or is it bad?
Today we live, at least in economically developed countries, in ‘technological societies’, so called to highlight the fact that technological progress represents a fundamental aspect of citizens’ life. There are different attitudes towards the continuous change imposed by technology: from the catastrophic one of those who accuse them of being at the root of many, if not all, the evils of the modern world, to that of those who enthusiastically think that technology improves it anyway. everyone’s life. Both attitudes lead to exaggerations, such as those of those who see science as ‘good’, as a disinterested research, to be contrasted with ‘bad’ technology, aimed only at profit, which makes our life less ‘natural’.
Certainly there are aspects of technology that create problems for the environment and our health. The development of new technologies causes the obsolescence of the previous ones, with immense quantities of waste to be disposed of; other technologies, such as that of the internal combustion engine of cars, are very polluting and widespread throughout the globe. On the one hand it is recognized that technology has always improved living conditions, on the other hand it brings to the fore the need to combine the development of an increasingly populated and demanding world in terms of natural resources with the least possible impact on environment.
New technologies, therefore, but more respectful of the environment. This conscious attitude also depends a lot on the will of all citizens, who are the end users of many technology products.