Technology is a broad term that refers to tools and machines that may be used to solve real-world problems. It can encompass anything from a crowbar to a space station, and can include both physical and non-physical items, such as software and business methods. It also includes the development of systems, processes and structures that have the capacity to meet a particular need, such as the production of foodstuffs, energy sources, clothing and housing.
Since its prehistorical inception, technology has significantly altered the nature of human society. It has helped people to overcome hunger by increasing available food; it has enabled war by making weapons more effective and easier to use; and it has reduced the barriers to communication by enabling the spread of ideas and information more rapidly.
In addition to the countless ways in which technology has improved our lives, it has also changed the way many of us work. It has streamlined tedious and environmentally wasteful processes, expedited access to work while exponentially increasing productivity and made it easier than ever for people to work from anywhere in the world.
While technological advancements have improved working conditions, they can also create side effects that are not always obvious or desirable. These side effects can range from the minor to the catastrophic. For example, refrigerators can cause ozone depletion by leaking small amounts of a gas into the atmosphere. Whether the technology has positive or negative effects, it is important to consider these issues when developing and using new technologies.
Technology, like language, ritual and values, commerce, art and music, is a force that shapes and reflects culture. From the shaping of tools to the creation of computer chips, it has been a dominant factor in the evolution of human civilization. It has affected everything from how much and how we eat to the manner in which we govern ourselves.
The term “appropriate technology” refers to a design that is suited to a given situation and that has the potential to be adopted by those who need it. It is an alternative to the notion of ‘high-tech’, which refers to advanced technologies that are unaffordable or difficult to access for some users.