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Category: 02. 9/12 Understanding S, T, and S (Page 1 of 2)

The Complexity of Technology

While we use the word “technology” frequently in our daily life, actually defining it presents an unexpected challenge. In todays world, things like iPhones, televisions, and xboxes are common associations made with technology. Not many people would argue that those aforementioned devices are fair associations, but as we revisit older and older inventions, things that were once considered technologies are now considered tools. When this transition occurs is difficult to pin point, and drawing a distinct line that separates tool from technology may be an impossible task. Continue reading

Dependence on Technological Advancements

Technology can be described as the advancement of computers, smartphones, or any type of high level machinery. Many people in today’s world could not imagine life without modern day technology. Yet, with that said, technology can be viewed in an entirely different light. Technology is not a necessity in life; technology is used to alter the future by breaking new barriers and inventing tools that enable people to do things they never thought possible before. In David Nye’s, “Can We Define Technology?”, technology is viewed as a simple means to an end. In other words, Nye states that, “The central purpose of technologies has not been to provide necessities, such as food and shelter, for humans had achieved these goals very early in their existence. Rather, technologies have been used for social evolution” (1). As humans, we are all capable of achieving a satisfactory lifestyle, yet we recognize the capabilities of technology, but this admiration can only go so far.

I believe that technology can be defined as the leading component in social evolution and social change. No one was aware the the discovery of a the hammer would lead to the development of using nails to build. This then led to the invention of the nail gun, which in turn made it possible to construct homes in five times the amount of time it would take if you had a hammer. Technology is the forefront of social evolution. We as humans evolve with the likes of technology; we adapt to the new technological advances only to have to adapt to new ones the next day. Technology is an ever changing field that is at the peak of its’ production in the 21st century.

It is my conclusion that technology does not evolve through society, society evolves through advancements in technology. As a society, we sit around being lead and influenced by our current technology only to be satisfied with the newest and latest advancement into the future. The process is everlasting, yet I am afraid most people unaware of the control and limitations technology has placed on our lives. Our respect and dependency on technology has become far too great as it has become the pacemaker for many people in their lives, and unfortunately, I do not see that changing any time soon.

How Deviation Drives Science

The word “science” is often associated with long, white lab coats, test tubes and beakers filled with bubbling chemicals and textbooks infused with never-ending formulas. However, science is not always driven by clear-cut formulas and perfectly designed experiments. Instead, the essence of science is its ability to defy these traditional paradigms and rigid methodical approaches.

Continue reading

Deeply Understanding Scientific Paradigms

In 1962,  Thomas Kuhn publishes his book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions where he discusses the history of science. He introduces the concept of paradigms in science as 

“practices that define a scientific discipline at certain point in time” (14).1

In other words, paradigms are commonly accepted views or theories about a discipline and the conventions that dictate its research. There are paradigms in all disciplines, like physics with Newton’s Theory of Motion and Mechanics or biology with Darwin’s Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection. In order to learn what science or technology is, it is becoming increasingly vital to experiment in order to deeply understand how certain paradigms come into existence.

It is also possible that disciplines experience paradigm shifts, which Kuhn considers to be the basis of the scientific revolution. Across time and disciplines, there have been fundamental changes in the underlying assumptions or research approaches. When David Nye, the author of Technology Matters: Questions to Live With explains tools in human history,  it is similar to the concept of a paradigm shift:

“[tools] are part of systems of mean-ing, and they express larger sequences of actions and ideas. Ultimately, the meaning of a tool is inseparable from the stories that surround it” (2-3). 2 

The “stories” and “larger sequence of actions and ideas” alludes to the evolution of meaning and usage of tools over time. Initially, tools were for capturing and domesticating animals, creating fires, and building shelters, but evolved to also become a means of murder and warfare. The history of tools can be thought of as a primitive example of a paradigm shift because there was a shift in how tools were used, from basic survive to warfare. 

In order to deeply understand the paradigms of science and technology, experimentation is key. Experimenting, however, takes various forms depending on the discipline. In physics, for example, it can involve highly specialized scientific instruments in order to derive Earth’s gravitational acceleration. In computer science, it can involve learning Swift, a computer programming language to develop a social networking mobile application. In these experiments, the experimenter does not take paradigms of science at face value, but rather more deeply understand how those concepts or technologies came to be. Gravitational acceleration is not simply 9.8m/s, its value fits within the framework of a universally applicable law known as Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation. Any mobile application does not work via magic, there are complex layers of programming languages and unique software architectures that create an working mobile application. In other words, in order to learn about science and technology, there needs to be deep inquiry on the accepted paradigms of science, not just blind acceptance.

1 Lijing Jiang, “Understanding S, T & S” (presentation, ST112 Course, Waterville, ME, September 10, 2018).
2 David Nye, Technology Matters: Questions to Live With (The MIT Press, 2007), 1–16.

Understanding S,T and S

Technology is a fascinating concept. It is not limited to just one defining idea. There are so many different perspectives on technology that allow for endless conversations. One very strong perspective on technology is Nye. He explains technology in terms of evolution, that technology is not just technology but the product made by humans to fulfill their own needs. Continue reading

The Evolution of Technology

While reading through David Nye’s essay, he makes it abundantly clear that the words technology and simplification are synonymous. He argues that “tools” have been around long before written text. Native Americans developed “irrigation systems, insulated cabins, and pottery”- amongst other things before they could write their own names on a piece of paper. (Nye, 5) As a reader we were challenged to define technology in our minds’ before we read this dissertation from Nye– naively, my brain went directly to computers or iPhones. Continue reading

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