11 Examples of the Importance of Technology
John Spacey, November 22, 2019
Technology is the application of science to produce practice results. It can be argued that even the most simple of tools such as a hammer is a technology. As such, technology is a fundamental element of human society, economy, culture and life. The following are illustrative examples of the importance of technology. existential risk to life on Earth. However, there isn't necessarily anything inherently unsustainable about technology as it is fully possible for technologies to solve environmental problems and reduce existential threats. For example, technology could theoretically be used to monitor for astronomical objects and prevent impact events.
ProductivityProductivity is the amount of value that a person creates in an hour of work. Technology vastly increases productivity allowing people to enjoy a high standard of living. For example, a farmer using a combine harvester and other machinery might be able to farm an area several hundreds times bigger than a farmer using their hands and simple tools that could be considered non-technological.
EfficiencyEfficiency is the amount of output that you get for a unit of input. For example, a candle has luminous efficiency of 0.04% as compared to a modern LED light that can reach a luminous efficiency over 25%. That means that you would have to use 625 times as much energy to produce light with a candle as with an LED light bulb.
SafetyTechnology can improve safety. For example, it is safer to fly 10,000 kilometers on a modern passenger jet than to take a relatively non-technological route such as a wooden sailboat without any modern safety equipment or technology such as a compass.
HealthTechnology has extended lifespans in many nations with improvements in medicine, hygiene, sanitation, diet, living conditions and working conditions. For example, soap is a technology based on chemistry that has extended countless lives by destroying microorganisms. In 1870, American life expectancy was 45.2 years, that had improved to 77.9 years by 2010.
CultureTechnology is an important element of modern culture. For example, the culture surrounding television, film, video games or electronic music.
CommunicationTechnology provides powerful communication tools such as the ability to have a conversation with someone on the other side of the world by telephone.
EconomyEvery modern industry is completely based on technology including transport, construction, communications, banking, mining, agriculture, manufacturing and healthcare. The economy as we know it would cease to exist without technology. It is unlikely that previous non-technological systems of subsistence agriculture could provide for the current population of the Earth. At very least, abandonment of technology would likely result in massive declines in quality of life. For example, the American infant mortality rate per 1000 births was 176 in 1870 and 5.8 in 2017.
KnowledgeTechnology such as the internet that gives billions of people access to the largest collection of knowledge ever created.
EducationTechnologies such as computers and the internet have transformed education by making memorization of facts relatively obsolete. In theory, this allows education systems to focus on higher level learning such as understanding of concepts and development of creativity.
ResilienceResilience is a community's ability to withstand stresses without losses. For example, the ability of a city to endure disasters without loss of life using technologies such as typhoon resistant housing, buildings and infrastructure.
Technology EconomicsThis is the complete list of articles we have written about technology economics.
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ReferencesGordon, Robert J. The rise and fall of American growth: The US standard of living since the civil war. Vol. 70. Princeton University Press, 2017.Pimputkar, Siddha, et al. "Prospects for LED lighting." Nature photonics 3.4 (2009): 180.
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