Technology is the combination of various methods, skills, and practices employed in the development of products or services, including scientific study, industrial design, or computer science. The scope of technology is constantly expanding; it includes all of the ways people use machines to make products or facilitate services. The term technology was first used by the French sociologist, Michel Foucauld. In his book, Culture and Technology, he defined technology as the development through social and technological practice of the total society. Within this framework, the technology is not static but dynamic, always in progress towards greater social complexity and power.
One example of technology is genetic engineering. This concept aroused a great deal of controversy since it was discovered that a farmer who wanted to increase the size of his wheat harvest was able to do so by using genetic engineering. Although it has been criticized as being potentially fatal to human life, genetic engineering continues to grow in popularity. Another form of technological system is nanotechnology, which involves the use of very small and powerful machines. Nanotechnology uses machines such as particle magnifiers, ionic energy generators, nano photomultiplier arrays, and x-ray fluorescent devices. These machines are designed to help researchers achieve the goal of creating new types of materials, devices, or imaging.
Other forms of technological systems are synthetic biology, computer networking, digital information systems, gene manipulation, information technology, and transcription technologies. Synthetic Biology refers to the field of biotechnology that involves the study, manufacture, and use of living organisms such as bacteria and viruses. Computer networking refers to the application of computers to the physical sciences and engineering such as telecommunications, transportation, energy, software, and manufacturing. Digital information systems refer to those that use computer networks to store, retrieve, transmit, and manage information.
The process of incorporating new technology into society usually occurs in two stages. First, society must determine what a new technology might do and how it will be beneficial to society. Next, it must take the technological knowledge available to generate the new technology and put those things into the marketplace. Typically, a new technological system is first tested in an experimental setting with the hopes that it will be successful and will then be deployed for use by citizens.
One of the most common reasons why new technologies are developed is to fill a gap in one’s knowledge. Perhaps there was a missing piece of technology that a prior generation had. Other times, there may be a new scientific knowledge that was recognized by previous generations but had been ignored because there was not a means to translate the scientific information. In other cases, new technologies simply come along and completely change the field of research and development. Regardless of the reason for developing new technologies, most scientific communities welcome the concept of new knowledge and research.
Over the past few decades, technology growth has been exponential. Advances in computer technology, electronics, telecommunications and transportation have all led to further technological developments. Because of the rapid pace of technology, there are many key questions and issues that remain unanswered such as; Will genetic engineering to create new technology or will it simply increase the number of potential diseases that can be treated?