Technology is commonly considered the application of scientific or related types of knowledge to the practical aims of human life, or as it is otherwise phrased, to the change and manipulation of the human environment. It is also referred to as a branch of knowledge dealing with the creation and use of technical means. The development of technology draws upon various subjects, including industrial arts, engineering, applied science, and pure science. Technology is often a specific piece of equipment, which can range in technology—from a hand-held tool to a complex system, such as a turbine engine or a computer.
Technology can be broadly defined as entities, either material or immaterial, created through an application of mental and physical value to extract some value. This definition is simple and far-reaching and refers to tools and machines capable of solving real-world problems. The ability to develop "technology" is often considered the single attribute that distinguishes Homo sapiens, with their ability to make and use new tools, from other animals.
The root of the word technology is believed to have come from the Greek word teckne for "art" or "craft" and logia for "study" or "speak." These combined words create teknologia, considered an earlier form of the word technology. However, the word teks is also considered to be an older, proto-Indo-European root meaning "to weave" or "to fabricate." The word teks is also found in related words such as architect, context, polytechnic, technical, textile, or tectonic.
By the 1610s, the Greek tekhnologia is used to refer to a "systematic treatment of an art, craft, or technique," originally referring to grammar. By 1829, the first use of technology appears in the sense of "the practical application of knowledge, especially in a particular area."
Depending on who is asked, the types or categories of technology can be as few as six, or as many as thirty, if not more. How many and what the categories are depend on the angle and interest of the individual who is categorizing technology. For example, one individual may categorize technologies based on significant individual technologies, such as sensors; while another individual may categorize technologies based on their impact and use in general business. Often, a single piece of technology may overlap across categories, but the higher level six categories of technology include: communication, electrical, energy, manufacturing, medical, and transportation. Many of these simple categories could be broken down further.
Communication technology tends to consist of any technology used to communicate, with some examples including Morse code and the telegraph. This has continued to develop into a lot of the infrastructure of more modern communications, such as mobile phones, computers, fax, emails, text messaging, and 3G, 4G, and 5G technologies or the internet. And communication technology also tends to include information technologies as well.
Many pieces of modern technology use electricity in one form or another. This could include computers, circuitry, artificial intelligence, software, or audio and visual technology. This category of technology is widespread and an example of the high degree of overlap through the different types of technology, as many software programs could be considered a form of communication technology.
Energy technology can be broadly defined as processes or technologies that improve or create new opportunities for the capture, development, and transfer of energy. This could include energy storage technologies, solar panels, wind turbines, or nuclear technology.
Mechanical technology is the application of engineering principles to achieve tasks with greater efficiency than traditional methods. This is a broad technology category, used to describe a variety of machinery for manufacturing or heavy engineering.
Medical technology is often defined as the application of science to develop solutions to health problems or issues. This can include the prevention or delay of onset of diseases or the promotion and monitoring of good health. This can include technology such as diagnostic systems, pharmaceuticals, surgical technology, and health monitoring systems.
Transportation technology is any technology related to people travelling easier and faster than traditional means. This could include the following:
- global positioning services
- flight technology
- vehicle technology
- space technology
- underground tunneling
- hyperloop technology.
The technology sector is a category of businesses that sells goods and services in electronics, software, computers, artificial intelligence, and other industries related to information technology. This industry sector has a wide range of products and services for both consumers and businesses. Consumer goods focus on personal computers, mobile devices, wearable technology, home appliances, and televisions, and business goods focus on enterprise software, logistics systems, databases, and critical information and services.
The technology sector is attractive for investors, as business growth is driven by new ideas and new tools. For example, Apple, one of the largest companies in this industry sector, iterates upon the design of its personal computers, smartphones, and related accessories each year, which is in part responsible for driving a consumer need for new products, related to the "fear of missing out." Other large companies in the sector include Google, Meta, Tesla, Alibaba, PayPal, and Adobe. The differences in these companies' business practices and interests represent the breadth of the technology industry sector.
Companies in this industry
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