Technology is a complicated and ever expanding subject and thus is difficult to define. However, since technology is created and used almost exclusively by humans, its definition should be viewed through the lens of human society. Through this lens, technology is a tool that represents humanity’s problem solving skills and creativity. 

In order to survive, humans must use problem solving skills. When the water supply is tainted, we can either find a new source of water or find a way to cleanse the existing water supply. Choosing to do the latter to solve the problem is a choice to use technology because it would require specific tools to do so. In this way, technology is an extension of humanity’s need to solve problems so that it may survive.

Throughout life, humans turn to technology to solve problems. When our home is too hot, we bring in a fan or an air conditioner. If we need to get to another location quickly, we can use a vehicle to transport ourselves. Technology has become a necessity in human life.  This is evident when David Nye asserts in his “Can We Define Technology?” that “invention has been the mother of necessity” (2). The necessity of technology to daily life helps to define it. Technology is a tool that is constantly depended upon to improve situations. It is a tool for bettering ourselves and the world around us. Similarly,  Nye claims that when using technology, “one imagines how present circumstance might be made different.”

Something unique about technology is its versatility when combined with the human imagination. Technology is not always used in the way that it is intended to be used and it still achieves a desirable outcome. For example, kitchen rubber gloves were created to protect hands while washing items. However, when the lid to a jar is stuck, wearing rubber gloves enhances your grip, therefore allowing you to open the jar. Although the gloves were not designed to give a better grip for opening items, it works. Technology lends itself to this sort of creativity and ingenuity; this is what makes technology special. The creativity associated with technology is supported by Cyril Stanley Smith, a metallurgist at MIT. Quoted by David Nye, Smith asserts in  that “technology is more closely related to art than to science” because “art must somehow involve the selection and manipulation of matter” to achieve a goal. While the word technology usually reminds people of precision and calculations, words that do not typically apply to art, it is important to note that technology can be exceedingly creative. 

Sources

David Nye, “Can We Define Technology?” Technology Matters: Questions to Live With(The MIT Press, 2007), 1–16.