The word technology refers to ways of making or doing things. It includes all the methods through which people use their inventions and discoveries to satisfy their needs and wants.
Over a very long period of time, people all over the world have developed various ways of solving natural problems and overcoming environmental difficulties in order to improve the quality of life. These problems and difficulties are mainly those of inadequate food, hostile weather, harmful environmental factors, poor tools, inadequate resources, physical limitations and so forth. People discovered and developed ways by which food, clothing, shelter, tools, and other equipment could be obtained. In doing these people are involved in the development and application of technology in one way or the other. Therefore technology is the sum total of ways through which people make things and change their environments in order to satisfy human needs and desires, improve the quality of lives of human beings as well as those of their interests. For instance, technology is of direct use to human beings as in the manufacture of tools, machines, equipment and appliances for enhancing the work and comfort of human beings. It is also of indirect use to human beings as in the keeping of pets and nurturing of other biological species in captivity and these are also legitimate interests of human beings. In whatever way it is looked at, an overriding aim of technology and its applications is the provision of solutions to numerous problems.
Relationship between Technology and Science
Technology and science are very closely related, but they are still distinct. Much, but not all of technology is based on science. Science is the field of study that uses rational methods to articulate observed facts of nature and deduce the relationships among these facts. It consists of on-going improvements in the knowledge of how people understand the physical world around them. Science seeks to explain the relationships between causes and effects. It attempts to provide answers to such questions as what, why, when, and how? However, technology is mainly concerned with the practical use of effects. It incorporates skills gained by constant practice and scientific study. Mention should also be made of the field of study known as engineering at this point. Technology, science and engineering are naturally related. Engineering is the profession, which essentially incorporates all the spectrum of engagements (study, activities, research and so forth) involved in the conversion of the physical forces of nature towards productive ends. Engineering is firmly based on scientific principles and is inclusive of much organized training and practice. While in a way, technological skills can be readily imbibed by people with minimal training. Only the highly trained can practice engineering and qualify to be truly called engineers.
Sometimes the development of a particular kind of technology occurs before complete understanding of the scientific principles involved. For instance, all groups of people have known for a very long time simple technologies of processing and preserving foodstuffs to make them suitable for human consumption. However, it is relatively recent that the scientific principles involved in such technologies were clearly understood. For example, Nigerian people
Benefits of Technology
Technology has brought immense benefits for human beings. Industrial technology in particular has caused radical changes in the ways of life of human beings the world over. These changes are very noticeable all over the world. The principal benefits of technology are enumerated as follows:
1) Increased Production and Improved Quality of Goods
Tremendous increases have resulted in the production of agricultural, domestic and various other kinds of consumer products. For example a farmer using manual means (e.g. hoes and machetes) and rudimentary methods of farming can produce food for about 5 people at the most. If the farmer decides to make use of modern technology, and then acquires a tractor, modern farming implements, fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, improved seeds, crop storage facilities, crop processing equipment and modern cropping techniques, he will be able to cultivate a much larger area of land and produce food for as many as 80 people or more. Furthermore the improved qualities of food produced as a result of better agricultural techniques ensure better nutrition.
In the area of manufacturing of goods, factory workers today produce far greater amounts of goods per person than workers did decades ago. Such goods are also of better quality.
2) Reduced Costs of Products
Along with techniques of mass production of goods came reduced unit costs of products. With intensive application of technology in the production process, goods cost far less to produce today than they cost decades ago. In certain instances for example home electronics, the cost of a unit has been reduced to a small fraction of its cost years ago particularly when industrial technology is applied to manufacturing.
3) Improvements in Labour
The application of machines to produce goods and services has reduced the necessity for human and animal labour. Today in some factories a worker with the aid of machines can accomplish what needed 20 workers to do years ago. Also technology has improved the working environment. Farmers used to sweat in the sun and they become easily exhausted. Today there are tractors with airconditioned cabins. Miners used to toil in poorly ventilated and inadequately lighted mines and casualties were many. Currently mines are better ventilated and lighted. Much drudgery has been eliminated from most jobs. When ergonomics, the science, which studies people and their working environments, is put to beneficial use as evidenced by clean, attractive and comfortable surroundings, the productivity of workers rises appreciably.
4) Improvements Associated with Health Care Delivery
Developments in medical technology have improved health care delivery. Ways of curing and preventing several diseases, which ravaged human populations, have been discovered. New drugs have been developed. Technology has given scientists crucially needed insight into the microscopic world of bacteria, viruses, protozoans and other microorganisms. The knowledge has furnished methods through which these organisms are controlled for the benefit of human kind. Also at present, there are improved techniques of sanitation and the management of wastes. The net effect of all these are appreciable reductions in disease-related deaths, increases in lifespan and overall improvements in human health.
5) Improvements in Transportation
Both transportation and communication have been revolutionized. Hundreds of years ago, men moved on horsebacks and a few tens of kilometres could only be covered in a day’s journey. Today, much of the whole world can be covered in a single day of flying in an aircraft. Horses and canoes used to be the preferred modes of transport. Now they have been replaced by motor vehicles, watercrafts and aircrafts. Without technology, it would have been impossible to reach the moon, learn about other planets or even other galaxies in this great universe. However, with advances in technology human beings have reached the moon, sent spacecrafts to other planets and are already investigating the possibility of continental travel through the use of highspeed trains running in tunnels built under the sea.
6) Improvements in Communications
At present, information is relayed virtually instantly. There are radios and televisions to get people informed on various parts of the world. Global System of Mobile (GSM) communication phones, fixed wireless phones, internet, fax, video-phone, satellite television and other means of communication are available to convey messages. Through technology, a global audience watches sports, entertainment, and other events. In fact through satellite television, a person may watch, say the soccer world cup in the comfort of his living room even though he is thousands of kilometres away from the stadium and still have a better view of the game than the spectators present in the stadium. Increased convenience has resulted from all these. Through technology, information beyond our solar system is being gathered through various scientific means. Some of the information relate to events, which happened in the universe hundreds of millions, and in some cases billions of years ago.
7) Improvements in Human Education
Technology has brought about enormous improvements in literacy and educational levels. There is mass production of books, newspapers, and other educational aids. Also schools, research institutes and universities have been constructed due to advances in building technology. In today’s world, medical students in one continent watch live surgeries and other medical procedures being conducted on patients in hospitals in another continent and yet can still ask questions from the surgeons and receive instantaneous answers. Even with technology, security services conduct surveillance on objects thousands of kilometres from where they are located.
From the above points, it is apparent that technology has brought about an increased enrichment of life to a level, previously unknown in the history of the world.