A fascinating question. A somehow tricky answer. However, as almost always, the teacher had the answer. Or so he thought. I am not fond of the education model in many countries, maybe even globally. And that is why in many cases, I would search and find answers on my own. I was not satisfied with being fed the same food, with no effort of even adding spices to it. At this point, since this is our first meeting together, I will not dive into education, and thus let’s proceed to the matter of the day.
I still remember the day at school when our teacher asked the million-dollar question: “What is technology?”. So many smiles created by a single question! I was thrilled! Yet no one would raise their hand. No one. Honestly, what is technology?! We live with it, and we use it. We talk about it often. A subject which is so tangible yet vague enough to avoid our mind’s attention.
Humans are amazing beings, my favorite one! We are capable of almost anything! And within this range falls the ability to taking things for granted.
Honestly, what is technology?
When we use something too often, when we do not even question its origin, we tend to take it for granted. Such is our approach to technology. We have taken it for granted, especially the last ten years, experiencing its rapid progress. Back to our class now, where no one is willing to take a chance and answer the “left-hanging” question. “What is technology?”. Now is the time when every teacher turns to their favorite students and pushes them to give it a try. And it works, the first attempt states that technology is computers. Another one states that technology is what we create. I can’t hide the smile on my face, and I can’t contain the dangerous confidence that started building inside me. I say dangerous, as it quickly transformed to arrogance. “They have no idea…”. This thought prevailed over all other thoughts in a matter of seconds. I left my mind drift into the idea of winning, into the idea of astonishing everyone with my answer. The rest of the responses were just music to my ears, music of triumph (our imagination is another human ability that I genuinely admire).
Just before getting to my answer, let’s examine technology definitions found in dictionaries. As per the Cambridge Dictionary, technology is the study and knowledge of the practical, especially industrial, use of scientific discoveries. Technology refers to the use of scientific knowledge or processes in business, industry, manufacturing, etc. As per the Collins Dictionary, technology relates to methods, systems, and devices, which are the results of scientific knowledge used for practical purposes. I was never satisfied with this definition. For me, technology was all about progress, innovation, new things. I could not see such descriptions grasping even a fraction of technology’s context and capabilities. I love understanding everything I find to be of importance. These definitions could not do it.
Back to our class again. I was ready. I would amaze everyone with my definition, something I created, something new! My technology. It is interesting to apprehend for how many topics, happenings, events, essences we have not placed a sound definition. We have just accepted the status quo and carry on. Such an essence is technology. And thus, my definition of technology was a lot simpler and sound (at least to my mind). I raised my hand and waited. The teacher nodded, and my turn was up. With my wide smile on, I answered: “Technology is the most up-to-date way of doing things.”
Silence. That was the reaction, complete silence. I was proud of my definition, I was confident that it would amaze everyone, but I did not see this coming; complete silence. Even the teacher was puzzled for a few seconds. And the bell rang. That was the end of the class, meaning no discussion around my definition. I didn’t care; my description is fantastic!
Fast-forward to today, let’s put some thought into it. Technology is the most up-to-date way of doing things. It is, isn’t it? Even by the way we refer to technology, we realize that this statement is true: “A new technology comes up in U.S. laboratory,” “5G replaces the previous 4G technology”, “New technology reduces the time required for test results from 48 hours to 2 hours”. Technology is indeed the most up-to-date way of doing things. It applies to anything: either a process or a product, a methodology in teaching or evolution of mobile phones.
What is a definition?!
While writing this article, I couldn’t help myself asking the same question over and over. “What is a definition?”. And that is maybe the most important question! If I am to assign a definition to something, I should understand what the task is, right? So, what is a definition? We globally accept that definition is the “statement that explains the exact meaning of a word or a phrase.” Can you see the problem here? Technology is the most up-to-date way of doing things. This description is a result! It does not explain why this happens, why it is the most up to date way of doing things. Moreover, it does not explain why technology varies around the world.
We do not encounter the same technology in China, as we do in Us, in Europe, in Africa, in the Amazon rainforest, or as we do anywhere in the world. If technology is, in fact, the most-up-to-date way of doing things, then why aren’t all people using the same technology? How come some people are more technologically advanced than others?
I started analyzing this line of thought, with my methodology of understanding and building definitions, something I like to call my technology. And that’s when I finally got it. I understood what technology is and why it has been so difficult to describe. I genuinely believe until now, we haven’t defined technology completely. We have not understood its origin.
Every single piece of technology that man created reflects either his abilities or his imagination. As Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions”. If we imagine something, it is instantly possible. Maybe not today, but it is indeed possible. Someone’s capabilities, ideas, imagination inspire a technological advancement. And that is the definition of technology.
Technology is us!
It is that simple! We are our technology. This description explains why we encounter different types and advancements in technology throughout the world. Because technology is us, it reflects our capabilities, ideas, and imagination. Technology serves man, by improving how we complete (usually improving completion time and quality). Mobile phones reflect our ability to talk, write, and connect. Computer language demonstrates our ability to communicate. Automobiles reflect our ability to move and travel. The internet reflects our ability to research, socialize, and form networks. Everything that technology has to offer reflects our capabilities, ideas, and imagination. Technology is us.
P.S. I am an evolving technology. Thus, I updated my definition of technology while working on this article, processing data, creating new knowledge, and hopefully forming wisdom. Technology is me, you, us.