Technology is the application of scientific knowledge to organize tasks involving people and machines that meet sustainable goals. This includes the design of new tools and the modification of existing ones to fit particular needs. It also involves the integration of those tools into an organization and educating workers how to use them efficiently and safely.
Technological resources can improve productivity, enhance security and reduce costs by automating repetitive processes, allowing for a higher level of consistency in the work product. They can also help to increase accuracy by eliminating manual error-prone steps. By providing a more seamless workflow, these technological resources can free up human time to focus on more value-added activities.
The development of technology has greatly influenced the course of history and the nature of human society. Great agricultural revolutions have altered the food supply and shaped the population; bows and arrows and gunpowder changed how war was waged; and the computer has transformed communications, business practices, writing and computation, entertainment, education, banking, healthcare, and transportation.
As with all tools, the effect of technology varies depending on how it is used. Some technologies have no side effects, while others may have significant negative impacts on people or the environment. It is difficult to know in advance what the impact of any given technology will be, but scientists and engineers have a responsibility to consider these issues. Their ability to look at long-term consequences can contribute to more informed decisions by business, government and individuals.
Every engineering design operates within constraints that must be taken into account, including economic (only so much money can be spent), political (local and federal regulations), social (opposition from interest groups), ecological (likely disturbances to the natural environment), ethical (disadvantages to some people or risk to future generations), and cultural (the perception of what is right and wrong). Achieving an optimum design requires finding a balance among these constraints.
Many of the most important technologies are also the most expensive. Developing a new computer chip, for example, can cost billions of dollars. This investment pays off in the form of increased profits from more efficient and powerful products. The demand for these products drives the growth of the economy and creates jobs in manufacturing, sales, service and support.
While some jobs are lost to automation, technology has largely made up for this by creating other jobs. In fact, it is estimated that the average number of jobs per household has risen as a result of the invention of technological devices and tools.
As a result, the rate of economic growth has been steadier since the 1970s than it had been in previous decades. Although the rapid growth of technology has led to more jobs being created than those destroyed, it has also lowered the average income per job. This has led to a growing gap between the richest and poorest in society. It has also been a major factor in increasing inequality and causing strain on the global financial system.