Technology is an ever-expanding field, embracing a vast assortment of technological systems and practices. It includes computer sciences, information science, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and other physical sciences. Technology is used in nearly every aspect of human activity, from creation to operation. The process of technology transfer involves the exchange of information and technology between individuals, institutions, organizations, and nations.
Technology is the totality of human knowledge and skills, including those of various fields. It is a practice in all areas of human activity, ranging from science, which seeks to understand and discover the universe and everything around it, to medicine, which seeks to understand and treat disease. Technology is the method of knowing that facilitates communication between individuals and society. In the broadest sense, technology is the means of knowing, which is also used to facilitate communication between people and their systems.
Technology in society reflects the culture and societal relationships that surround it. Many aspects of technology are shaped by cultural beliefs and practices. Some elements of technology were shaped by science, such as engineering, architecture, telecommunications, and computer science. Some practices are deeply entrenched cultural norms, such as the widespread use of paper and printing in most communities. There are many more practices, including social rituals and practices that have developed over time.
Social and technological factors contribute to the definition, scope, and structure of technology. Cultural dimensions of technology are the basis for why some practices of society are unique or different from others. This is not to say that technology necessarily causes these differences, but that there are likely to be some unique characteristics of particular technology because of the practices of a society. For instance, some practices in some societies lend themselves to technical skills and other abilities. Other practices, however, lend themselves more to general human capabilities. A common example of this is the widespread use of complex machinery and other tools by some cultures.
On another level, technology is nothing more than a tool, something used to achieve a goal. Because technology is used to achieve goals, not to define what is possible, there can be no such thing as absolute technology. Absolute technology would almost surely consist of God-given technological artifacts that are technologically inferior to those that are scientifically proven. History has shown that all new forms of knowledge and technologies are either rejected or adopted selectively by some cultures and society over time. Absolute technology could therefore never truly exist.
As technology interacts with society, both science and technology exert their power and control on how social practices and perceives its world. The ultimate result is the creation of culture, values, and beliefs that shape the interaction of science and technology with the world. Through science and technology, cultures define their reality, develop their ethical codes, and create the foundation for the institutions that sustain their way of life. In doing so, technology has both helped and hinder the evolution of culture.