Technology is the collective term for many of the different ways of doing things around us, ranging from the smallest technological items like pocket calculators to the largest and most complex technological items like automobiles. It is important to note however that there are three broad distinctions when it comes to technology. Those are: technological change, technological evolution, and converging technologies. Each of these has its own distinct definition and is discussed below. For a definition in laymen’s terms, here is a list and brief explanation of each:
Technological change is any change that increases the power, speed, effect, or applicability of an item. This includes changes that affect how something works (like a new kind of trampoline being better at bouncing a basketball than a traditional one) and also changes that make an item more user-friendly (phones with voice recognition can be used by people who are hard of hearing, which was earlier impossible). Technological evolution is a change in technology that adds to or modifies the power, scope, or applicability of an item. For instance, the development of computer chips means that computers can be miniaturized, which means they can be placed more easily in a person’s hand. The development of the internet and other wireless networking means that the internet is now available everywhere, which allows for fast and inexpensive communication.
On the other hand, converging technologies refer to those technologies that actually arrive at similar results by different approaches. This is because these different approaches add new features to existing technologies without making drastic changes. For example, computers and cell phones have long been able to share files, access the internet, send and receive emails, send and receive voice messages, and so on. Over the past couple of decades, the development of Wi-Fi networking has made possible the ability for people to connect their computers to cell phones.
Technological change is often accompanied by rapid advancements in other fields. For instance, the adoption of Bluetooth technology means that mobile devices are able to communicate with computers and with other wireless devices. Similarly, the incorporation of webcams means that video conferencing has become more affordable and easier to use.
Technological change tends to create winners and losers. Those who benefit from the new technologies tend to perceive them as being good for them. Those who are negatively affected by the new technology tend to perceive it as having destroyed their economic or social status quo. In both cases, changing technology will continue to affect society. Those who are lucky enough to be out of the way of such changes often perceive technology’s impact less than positive than as negative.
Technological changes also often result in unforeseen changes that further complicate understanding. For instance, when video cameras were first introduced, many consumers appeared to be comfortable with the idea, but as years went by, more people became skeptical of their use. As new technologies continue to develop and improve, more consumers will become comfortable with the idea of video surveillance. The same will occur with cell phone usage.
Technological changes often result in unintended consequences. Often, people who are heavily impacted by a new technological change do not understand all of the ramifications of that change until it is too late. Such unintended consequences can result in higher costs, increased taxes or worse governmental policies. Often times, these unintended consequences do not surface until consumers have to face serious consequences because of the changes made.
When governments become capable of implementing technological changes quickly and efficiently, they often find themselves in a better position to implement sensible regulations and guidelines. In addition, such governmental regulation often leads to improvements in infrastructure and improved efficiency. These improvements often lead to long-term savings. Additionally, regulation leads to improvements in productivity, leading to increases in profitability. Technological changes often lead to the opposite of all of these desirable outcomes.