What Best Describes Technology?

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Technology is the application of scientific knowledge to human life. It involves using machines, tools, methods, systems and procedures to solve problems. In addition to humans, other species of animals, such as apes and dolphins, utilize technology and transfer this knowledge from generation to generation. Technology has an immense influence on the development of human society; there are various and conflicting opinions regarding the role and limits of technology.

Scientists tend to define technology as applied science, while social scientists describe it as machinery, tools, appliances and the skills by which we produce them. The term “technology” was not widespread before the 20th century, before which the phrase “useful arts” was common. Technology includes simple machines such as pulleys and wedges, automobiles, kitchenware, weapons and computers. Non-objects such as useful knowledge and socio-technical systems are also technology inasmuch as people use for human benefit.

Researchers have discovered that technology use is not exclusive to human beings. A diverse array of species in nature utilize tools to accomplish subsistence activities. Primates use tools such as sticks, bones and rocks to hunt, collect water and build shelter. Woodpecker finches in the Galapagos use cactus spines to catch insects hidden in tree crevices.

Technology has its skeptics. Some groups believe that technology promotes pollution, limits freedom, affects psychological health and makes people dependent.