Technology  

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Loisirs Littéraires au XXe siècle (English: "Literary leasures in the 20th century"), an illustration from the story "The End of Books" by French writer Octave Uzanne and illustrator Albert Robida.
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Loisirs Littéraires au XXe siècle (English: "Literary leasures in the 20th century"), an illustration from the story "The End of Books" by French writer Octave Uzanne and illustrator Albert Robida.

"It is, therefore, worth while to give a short list of some of the things the Greeks and Romans did not know, and that the Middle Ages did know. For most of the examples I shall cite I am indebted to Lynn White’s remarkable essay on Technology and Invention in the Middle Ages. The classical Greeks and Romans, although horsemen, had no stirrups. Neither did they think to shoe the hooves of their animals with plates of metal nailed to them. Until the ninth or tenth centuries of our era horses were so harnessed that they pushed against straps that ran high about their necks in such a way that if they threw their weight and strength into their work they strangled themselves. Neither did the classical peoples know how to harness draft animals in front of each other so that large teams could be used to pull great weights. Men were the only animals the ancients had that could pull efficiently. They did not even have wheelbarrows. They made little or no use of rotary motion and had no cranks by which to turn rotary and reciprocating motion into each other. They had no windmills. Such water wheels as they had came late and far between. The classical Greeks and Romans, unlike the Middle Ages, had no horse collars, no spectacles, no algebra, no gunpowder, no compass, no cast iron, no paper, no deep ploughs, no spinning wheels, no methods of distillation, no place value number systems—think of trying to extract a square root with either the Greek or the Roman system of numerals!"--Prints and Visual Communication (1953) by William Ivins, Jr., page 8

Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons
The Canard Digérateur, or Digesting Duck, was an automaton in the form of duck, created by Jacques de Vaucanson in 1739.   Voltaire wrote that "without [...] the duck of Vaucanson, you have nothing to remind you of the glory of France." ("Sans...le canard de Vaucanson vous n'auriez rien qui fit ressouvenir de la gloire de la France.") This is often misquoted as "Without the shitting duck, we would have nothing to remind us of the glory of France."
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The Canard Digérateur, or Digesting Duck, was an automaton in the form of duck, created by Jacques de Vaucanson in 1739. Voltaire wrote that "without [...] the duck of Vaucanson, you have nothing to remind you of the glory of France." ("Sans...le canard de Vaucanson vous n'auriez rien qui fit ressouvenir de la gloire de la France.") This is often misquoted as "Without the shitting duck, we would have nothing to remind us of the glory of France."

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The word technology refers to the making, modification, usage, and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, crafts, systems, and methods of organization, in order to solve a problem, improve a preexisting solution to a problem, achieve a goal, handle an applied input/output relation or perform a specific function. It can also refer to the collection of such tools, including machinery, modifications, arrangements and procedures. Technologies significantly affect human as well as other animal species' ability to control and adapt to their natural environments. The term can either be applied generally or to specific areas: examples include construction technology, medical technology, and information technology.

The human species' use of technology began with the conversion of natural resources into simple tools. The prehistorical discovery of the ability to control fire increased the available sources of food and the invention of the wheel helped humans in travelling in and controlling their environment. Recent technological developments, including the printing press, the telephone, and the Internet, have lessened physical barriers to communication and allowed humans to interact freely on a global scale. However, not all technology has been used for peaceful purposes; the development of weapons of ever-increasing destructive power has progressed throughout history, from clubs to nuclear weapons.

Technology has affected society and its surroundings in a number of ways. In many societies, technology has helped develop more advanced economies (including today's global economy) and has allowed the rise of a leisure class. Many technological processes produce unwanted by-products, known as pollution, and deplete natural resources, to the detriment of the Earth and its environment. Various implementations of technology influence the values of a society and new technology often raises new ethical questions. Examples include the rise of the notion of efficiency in terms of human productivity, a term originally applied only to machines, and the challenge of traditional norms.

Philosophical debates have arisen over the present and future use of technology in society, with disagreements over whether technology improves the human condition or worsens it. Neo-Luddism, anarcho-primitivism, and similar movements criticise the pervasiveness of technology in the modern world, opining that it harms the environment and alienates people; proponents of ideologies such as transhumanism and techno-progressivism view continued technological progress as beneficial to society and the human condition. Indeed, until recently, it was believed that the development of technology was restricted only to human beings, but recent scientific studies indicate that other primates and certain dolphin communities have developed simple tools and learned to pass their knowledge to other generations.

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Theories and concepts in technology

Economics of technology

Technology journalism




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