This article is about the use and knowledge of techniques and processes for producing goods and services. For other uses, see Technology (disambiguation).
A steam turbine with the case opened. Such turbines produce most of the electricity used today. Electricity consumption and living standards are highly correlated. Electrification is believed to be the most important engineering achievement of the 20th century.Technology ("science of craft", from Greek τέχνη, techne, "art, skill, cunning of hand"; and -λογία, -logia) is first robustly defined by Jacob Bigelow in 1829 as: "...principles, processes, and nomenclatures of the more conspicuous arts, particularly those which involve applications of science, and which may be considered useful, by promoting the benefit of society, together with the emolument [compensation ] of those who pursue them" .
Principle is a term defined current-day by Merriam-Webster as: "a comprehensive and fundamental law, doctrine, or assumption", "a primary source", "the laws or facts of nature underlying the working of an artificial device", "an ingredient (such as a chemical) that exhibits or imparts a characteristic quality".Process is a term defined current-day by the United States Patent Laws (United States Code Title 34 - Patents) published by the United States Patent and Trade Office (USPTO) as follows: "The term 'process' means process, art, or method, and includes a new use of a known process, machine, manufacture, composition of matter, or material."Nomenclature is term defined by Merriam-Webster as: "name, designation", "the act or process or an instance of naming", "a system or set of terms or symbols especially in a particular science, discipline, or art" .Application of Science is a term defined current-day by the United States' National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine as: "...any use of scientific knowledge for a specific purpose, whether to do more science; to design a product, process, or medical treatment; to develop a new technology; or to predict the impacts of human actions."The simplest form of technology is the development and use of basic tools. The prehistoric discovery of how to control fire and the later Neolithic Revolution increased the available sources of food, and the invention of the wheel helped humans to travel in and control their environment. Developments in historic times, including the printing press, the telephone, and the Internet, have lessened physical barriers to communication and allowed humans to interact freely on a global scale.
Technology has many effects. It has helped develop more advanced economies (including today's global economy) and has allowed the rise of a leisure class. Many technological processes produce unwanted by-products known as pollution and deplete natural resources to the detriment of Earth's environment. Innovations have always influenced the values of a society and raised new questions of the ethics of technology. Examples include the rise of the notion of efficiency in terms of human productivity, and the challenges of bioethics.
Philosophical debates have arisen over the use of technology, with disagreements over whether technology improves the human condition or worsens it. Neo-Luddism, anarcho-primitivism, and similar reactionary movements criticize the pervasiveness of technology, arguing that it harms the environment and alienates people; proponents of ideologies such as transhumanism and techno-progressivism view continued technological progress as beneficial to society and the human condition.