The history of man’s evolution can hardly be complete without any mention of technology and its immense contribution to civilization. But what exactly is technology? It is difficult to denote the impact of the technology in general without defining the term itself and its origins.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, technology is a “discourse or treatise on an art or arts; the scientific study of the practical or industrial arts.” The word traces its origins from the Greek word “techne” meaning art craft, and “logos” meaning word or speech. Today, the word “technology” is used to imply the discoveries and inventions which make life easier.
In the ancient times, in the Stone Age to be precise, we see the first examples of technology: stone flint tools such as scrappers, axes, cutters, arrowheads and hammers. Passing through the Bronze Age, up to the Iron Age, we appear in the Information age. It is a period packed with all sorts of unimaginable inventions and techniques that have helped man conquer all forces of nature. A big number of man’s inventions through technology today forms the greatest heritage in the man’s history of civilization. The contributions have come from virtually all parts of our globe-from Ancient Egypt, India, China, Mesopotamia, Greece, Byzantine Empire, and Europe. Each of these regions has contributed the nuts, bolts, rods, trusses and everything else to bring the technology up to where it is now.
The fact that technology has left an indelible mark on our lives cannot be denied. The way we produce food, communicate, travel, resist diseases, wage war, produce energy is directly connected with the development of technology.
Our ancestors who lived say 10,000 years ago had limited means of food production. They hunted and gathered wild fruits, but with time they invented stone tools and implements which helped them enhance food production. As time goes by, man moved food production technology to newer frontiers, developing new fast growing crop strains, enhancing storage, scaling mechanization, and as a result, today we have the means to produce infinite quantities of foods with minimal efforts, all on account of technology.
Technology has also affected transportation significantly. In the ancient times and even up to about 18th century, transportation means were limited, crude and inconvenient. Man could rely either on walking, riding beasts of burden, or sailing in rivers on the crude rafts made of logs, which was very dangerous. There were no aircrafts to overcome long distances, thus, civilizations evolved as isolated islands. Virtually everything including food was limited on account of poor transport means. But with technology, today the world seems to be a small place. With supersonic jets and mega- planes, high speed electric trains, cruise ships and ever speedier automobiles, one can travel to different corners of the globe within hours. Goods and services produced in one country or region are taken to all corners of the world via these means.
Technology has also improved the ways of communication. With gadgets like computers, radios, telephones, satellite dishes, etc., we can communicate with anyone from any part of the world which is itself inconceivable feat, taking into consideration, that barely a few centuries ago, all the possible means of communication were smoke signals, walking messengers, drums and blowing horns.
The way we wage wars has been also redefined by technology. Today, instead of using bows and arrows to fight enemies, we use fighter jets, machine guns, automatic rifles, nuclear weapons, drones, guided missiles that can attack targets thousands of kilometers away controlled by a single person behind a computer. Weapons of mass destruction can wipe out the entire world. In the other hand, weapons have created more peaceful world as opposed to a few centuries ago when petty feuds between different nations defined our world.
Among other areas which were affected by technology is medicine. Today, man has mastered every part of his body system with the completion of the human genome map. Diseases that were threatening to wipe out entire civilizations only a few hundreds of years ago, can be diagnosed in advanced laboratories, treated with the right pills or jabs and this is in a matter of a few days. Our means of developing drugs and vaccines are at their advanced state and as a result, deaths from diseases have reduced, and the quality of life dramatically improved. In essence, these few examples show the general impact of technology on our lives. And only time can show how technology will continue to affect our future.