Technology is the application of science to the actual change and transformation of an entire environment or, more accurately, to the manipulation and control of that environment. For example, human anatomy, history of; even computer architecture. Technology has affected every aspect of our lives. Computers, cell phones, TV, radios, etc. were not around ten years ago.
Technology is a term we use all the time, but few people can actually define it or understand its relationship to human life in any satisfactory way. It is not well understood by the scientific community, even though the major developments have been going on for decades. For example, there are those who believe that technology is evolving towards a one-size-fits-all effect where things like cars, computers, etc., have ‘contained’ within them a ‘gene’ or genetic material that determines their practical goals. And yet, the very definition of that word indicates that it is a completely different thing.
In my opinion, the most appropriate technical definition is to be a ‘relationship between a technological entity and its impact on a cultural structure,’ taking into account not only the technological objects themselves, but also the culture in which they are used. Cultural meaning is often quite different from objective technological meaning, as is the case with things like race, gender, and other such categories. Thus, technological change can occur through the processes of cultural change; the difference being that culture can accommodate new technologies without necessarily altering their underlying cultural meaning.
Schatzberg’s ‘ontogenetic’ definition is thus very important to note. I read the essay with great interest because I teach and work in applied science and have worked in the technical sciences. To me, the meaning of this phrase is crucial, and yet it is apparently a point that is easily forgotten in the study of technology. In this regard, let me offer some clarification. The term technical is used in the context of science so as to distinguish between the application of scientific methods to solve a given problem, and the employment of those methods to achieve a particular result.
For instance, the term science refers to methods, such as physics, chemistry, biology, etc., used to describe things like the properties of matter and energy, and the behavior of sub-atomic particles. These things are considered physical objects, and science uses physical laws to explain their existence and relationships. The study of how these laws interact and influence reality is called science, and is deeply woven into many disciplines, including applied science, arts, and technology. A good example of such a discipline is engineering, which is essentially the study of how things like air, light, and water are produced and how they affect each other.
Applied science, meanwhile, is the study of all the physical phenomena associated with things like electricity, magnetism, heat, and sound, which we use every day. We are deeply affected by them in our every day lives, and in many ways they help us to organize our physical world. One area where applied science has made profound contributions is in the field of information technology. Two of the most significant advances in the field came about as a result of the Schatzberg-enberg invention. One came about as a result of Bell’s ‘electronic machine’ which was meant to weigh communications using voice waves; the other came about as a result of Moore’s law, which states that the number of transistors used in computer chips will double approximately every eighteen years.
Computational methods of visualizing matter, energy, and communication existed before computers and were first used by such diverse disciplines as astronomy, physics, and mathematics. However, they were greatly impacted by the invention of quantum mechanics in Physics in the late nineteenth century. Quantum mechanics describes the strange properties of sub-atomic particles, and the ways in which they behave when put in contact with one another. It gave rise to theories concerning the behavior of matter in general, and thus predicted new kinds of technologies which had yet to be seen. Two fields of great importance in the modern era, which emerged from quantum mechanics are optics and photonics.
Optical and photonic technologies developed during the twentieth century by means of experimental physics based on Schatzberg and J.A. Bell’s principles. Bell started out by studying how light, which is a very weak wave, interacts with an electron in a cell, and developed a theory concerning the nature of electromagnetic waves. Whereas Aristotle’s physical sciences attempted to explain the matter through natural processes, Schatzberg saw only limitations in the natural laws and sought to explain the matter through computation.