Technology involves creating and using devices, systems and methods to solve problems, meet needs or improve lives. It encompasses a broad range of subjects and areas, from the development of tools to the creation of robots that can aid humans in complex tasks. It also includes the use of computers to store and retrieve information.
The development of new technologies is often an iterative process, with different solutions being tried and tested to see which ones work best. Engineers play a critical role in technology development by constructing a problem statement, then designing a technological system or device to meet that need. This type of engineering often involves evaluating potential risks, such as environmental impacts or safety concerns, to ensure that the technology will be successful and meet the need.
Almost every aspect of modern life is influenced by technology. Agricultural technology has changed the course of human history; sanitation, preventive medicine and gunpowder have altered how wars are waged; and the microprocessor has revolutionized the way people write, bank, operate businesses, conduct research and communicate with one another.
Some types of technology have a positive influence on society, while others may have negative impacts. For example, pollution and depletion of natural resources can result from the use of certain technologies. However, the benefits of a technology can outweigh any negative side effects.
The emergence of many new types of technology is due to advances in science and mathematics. These developments allow scientists to better understand the world around them and provide a foundation for new applications. Some examples of this include computer-aided design (CAD), computer-based modeling, digital communications, quantum computing and other scientific methods that make it possible for new lines of research to be developed.
Technological advances often require that old technologies be deprioritized or made obsolete. For example, as digital cameras became more commonplace, analogue cameras were pushed aside. Digital photography is faster and more convenient, while analogue cameras required time-consuming and inefficient processes such as developing film and sitting in a darkroom.
Although some forms of technology are used for entertainment purposes, other technologies are used in business and industry to streamline or automate processes. This can help companies save money and maintain productivity. For example, replacing repetitive machining steps with casting or some other metal-forming technique can increase production speed and efficiency; automating an order-processing system can save the time of a receptionist or customer service staff; and integrating a point-of-sale system with your accounting software can reduce the amount of manual data entry needed to create reports.
Educational technologies give teachers and students more ways to engage with learning. They can replace paper with digital documents, use online tests or assignments and provide accessibility features for learners with special needs. For example, students with visual disabilities can access a screen reader to read text to them. They can also use speech-to-text technology to follow along as a teacher speaks or to listen to important documents.