Despite its widespread use, technology remains a complex topic. To understand its role in society, one needs to understand how it works, how it shapes people’s interactions, and how it affects the natural world. The term “technology” has been used to refer to a wide variety of processes, including the manufacture of materials, tools, techniques, and information. The word has also been applied to the state of a field’s knowledge.
The relationship of technology to society is generally seen as symbiotic or co-dependent. In a symbiotic relationship, the technology works with the society, while in a co-dependent relationship, the society works with the technology. Depending on the perspective, technology can be either a positive or negative force.
The relationship of technology with society begins at the dawn of humankind. The relationship continues throughout modern times with technology’s development. During this time, the relationship has developed into two distinct traditions.
The first is instrumentalist, which emphasizes the technological path as a narrow technical rationality. This tradition is often portrayed as devoid of values. The second is a synthesis, which emphasizes the importance of the technology and its impact. This tradition is also called the new Luddites, as they seek to mitigate the societal impacts of technological change.
In the twentieth century, the concept of appropriate technology began to develop. It outlined situations where new technologies are not desired or where imported parts or centralized infrastructure is needed. This has led to movements such as the eco-village movement, where communities rely on local materials instead of imported goods. These initiatives have influenced government policy. The concept has been used to define the boundaries for the use of new technologies by governments.
The relationship of technology to society is also affected by the nature of the technologies. Many of them produce unwanted by-products or deplete natural resources. In addition, the technology is sometimes used to facilitate political oppression.
There are three basic types of technologies: soft technologies, hard technologies, and flexible technologies. The latter are applied in a variety of areas, including health, science, and economics. These fields have their own remits and complexities. These fields are also related to economics, sociology, and management. Some of these fields include computer science, environmental science, and climate science.
The development of technology is a step-by-step process. Each step validates the underlying ideas, tests them against reality, and increases the researcher’s confidence. However, each step increases the complexity of the technology’s relationship with the larger contexts. In this sense, the complexity of technology is a function of its relationship with the social and political context.
New technologies can generate forces of change from unexpected places. This is especially true in emerging sectors of the economy, such as biotechnology, where the technology is not firmly established. These technologies may be promising, but they are often stalled in mid-development. In these cases, sustained efforts are needed to overcome the ‘death valley’.
When developing technology, it is important to take into account people with diverse expertise and experiences. Having different people involved in the development of the technology will allow for more informed decision-making and minimize any potential negative consequences. During the development of technology, it is important to have clear incentives for private-sector entities and to measure and mitigate any impacts.