What Is Technology?

Almost everything we do in our lives is supported by technology. From the simplest tasks to the most complex projects, technological tools make our lives easier. They also help us get work done faster and more efficiently.

For something so ubiquitous, it’s not always clear what exactly technology is. It could mean anything human-made, but most people tend to equate it with gadgets: phones, computers, big TVs, HiFi’s, cars and the latest robotic grass cutters. Within the business world, the definition of technology is even narrower, often gravitating towards what’s known as “IT”, Information Technology – computer networks, servers and software.

It’s important to remember that technology is not a solution, but a path to an end. It is a rational process of creating means to order and transform matter, energy and information to realize certain valued ends. It includes both the resulting technological objects (tools, devices, systems, methods, procedures) and the knowledge that makes it possible to discover new means for such transformations.

Since humanity is inherently a tool-making species, we’ve been technologists from the beginning of our history. It is not, however, intrinsic to the nature of technology that this development will continue – as we saw during the COVID-19 pandemic, some societies have lost the accumulated technologies their ancestors brought to them. It is inherently a risky enterprise. The technologist chooses what kind of future to prioritize through the use of technology, and that choice must inherently involve instrumentality and free will.