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What is technology?

Inventor Nikola Tesla. The word technology comes from the Greek words

What is technology? We spend a lot of time talking about it, but the answer is both easy and surprisingly difficult to locate. The word technology comes from the Greek words “techne” and “logos”. A modern definition proves hard to pin down.

Merriam-Webster says technology is:

“Application of knowledge to the practical aims of human life or to changing and manipulating the human environment. Technology includes the use of materials, tools, techniques, and sources of power to make life easier or more pleasant and work more productive. Whereas science is concerned with how and why things happen, technology focuses on making things happen.”

That’s a tidy definition, but there is nothing in it that could not also be construed to apply to the world of mining, for instance.

Techne is the root of technology

To further answer the question, “what is technology?” Let’s break down the word. Technology is a combination of two Greek words, techne and logos. Techne means art, craft, or skill. Logos means “to speak of”. Some have since taken the word logos to imply the practical application of techne, but others say that is stretching its etymological roots. So, essentially, techne is the root word of technology

Below: Elon Musk on the Technology of the Future


Needless to say, neither of these bookish pursuits seem to help us nail down a definition that would be satisfying to a modern audience.

Let’s look at some famous quotes about technology that may somehow get us closer to the answer:

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
― Arthur C. Clarke


“The real danger is not that computers will begin to think like men, but that men will begin to think like computers.”
― Sydney J. Harris

Interesting. Implies an important role for the right side of the brain, not just the analytical left brained stuff.

“The best way to predict the future is to invent it”
Alan Kay

The bold mind of an innovator.

“There are cameras nowadays that have been developed to tell the difference between a squirrel and a bomb.”
― George W. Bush

OK, how did that get in here?

Perhaps the best way to look at the question, “what is technology?” is in terms of progress. In many ways, the world simply gets better because technology has the ability to create a higher standard of living. A vaccine eliminated polio. The internet breaks down social, racial and sexual barriers. Computers provide better access to education. But is it always true that more technology is the answer to the world’s problems?

Below: Bill Gates talks about how to save the world with technology

Not according to tech legend Bill Gates. Gates say that while the dream of providing internet access to the billions of people who do not have it is a noble one, is isn’t even close to being as important as ensuring that more people have proper plumbing, or access to vaccinations against infectious diseases.

“Innovation is a good thing,” Gates told The Financial Times recently. “The human condition – put aside bioterrorism and a few footnotes – is improving because of innovation,” he says. But while ­“technology’s amazing, it doesn’t get down to the people most in need in anything near the timeframe we should want it to”.

Below: Steve Jobs on How Technology Changes the World…

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About The Author /

Cantech Letter founder and editor Nick Waddell has lived in five Canadian provinces and is proud of his country's often overlooked contributions to the world of science and technology. Waddell takes a regular shift on the Canadian media circuit, making appearances on CTV, CBC and BNN, and contributing to publications such as Canadian Business and Business Insider.
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  1. When you see (-) points technology is so bad. But, when you see (+) points it’s useful

  2. i hate technology sometimes because it had brought technological proccess that produce unwanted by-product known as pollution and deplete natural resourses but anyway i like it because it made life easy in terms of work.

  3. above all technology is as bad as it bring what is wrong but as good as it performs good

  4. i like technology beacause sometimes it help people but sometimes it harmfull to invironment

  5. Information technology has helped in shaping both the business world and our society in general.many fields have been impacted by information technology and these include;education,health,entertainment,communication just to mention a few

  6. Am sturding information technology pliz help me how can i improve and how many subjects are in IT

  7. I can’t say technology is bad because i know how it has helped and still helping.However, i just can’t imagine the nature of this world after 50 years from now due to pronounced rate of advancement in the science and technology. pollution and frequent exposure to radiations from nuclear reactors, shifting the average human lifetime to an alarming figure; terrifying people. I just can’t tell what it is.

  8. Technology is applied to the roles each individual fulfills during life. We use technology on a daily basis to accomplish specific tasks or interests. Modern Technology increases human capabilities and this technology has evolved with years. What used to work before, might not be working now, it must have got old or got replaced by modern technology. Let’s look at a simple example in Transportation technology, this technology has evolved with years, we used to use steam powered trains now those have been replaced by electronic trains which move faster than steam trains.

    Modern technology simplifies life in so many ways and every one defines technology in there own way. To some people it means complicated electronic devices. To others, it means the source of the radical changes that are happening in all phases of life. Others define technology as science applied to practical purposes. Some people fear to use technology while others see it as the source of longer and more complete lives

  9. Technology is the solution of the region we need all and so we want it to use easily if u had or love the technology not want u but u want.

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