We explain and summarize the history of technology and its causes. Also, what were the technological revolutions and characteristics.
What is the history of technology?
By history of technology is understood the historical account of the development by the human being of tools and techniques that have allowed them to serve practical purposes. Thanks to them, he has been able to transform the world around him to make life easier.
To a large extent it is an important segment of the history of humanity itself, since the application of scientific knowledge and its impact on society have the ability to radically alter human life .
On the other hand, technology is a unique tool of the human species , a consequence of the application of its intellectual capacity and creative abilities. For this reason, the history of technology can also be understood as the historical account of the adaptive capacities of the human being .
What is technology?
Technology is the application of scientific knowledge and the understanding of the universe , to the concrete and punctual resolution of human problems. This means creating, designing and improving available goods or services to facilitate the adaptation of the species to the environment and the satisfaction of its desires or needs (physical, social, cultural).
When was technology born?
The creation of an articulate and symbolic language is unique to humanity.
Technology does not have a date of birth as such, that is, we cannot say that from a specific year it has been created or invented. It seems to be something that has existed since the beginning of our species . In fact, it serves to distinguish humanity from other species of hominids .
The conquest of fire , the use of lithic tools (made of stone) and the creation of an articulated and symbolic language are forms of technology that denote the closeness with our species and that, to this day, are exclusive to humanity among all animals of the world.
How is technological progress measured?
There are many social and anthropological theories that attempt to measure technological progress or at least allow comparisons and measurements of social, cultural and scientific evolution. Some of them agree that the information available is the element that allows this measurement.
In other words, the greater the amount of information, the more advanced is the technological development of a society. By information we understand the amount of accumulated and applicable knowledge in the different areas of life.
Stages in the evolution of technology
The Industrial Revolution brought the first machines and massive factories.
Generally, the technological evolution of humanity is classified into several well differentiated stages, called “Ages”, which are:
- Stone age . Stage that includes the beginnings of humanity, when we were fundamentally a hunter and gatherer species, which learned to use stone and bone instruments to hunt, to grind food or to defend itself from rival tribes, as well as fire to cook their food. All this without generating a perceptible impact on the ecosystem with these survival technologies.
- Age of metals . The permanent settlements, the domestication of animals and the discovery of the forge, that is, of the metallurgical work that allowed humans to forge simpler, more versatile and resistant tools, represented an important change in their way of life. This age is usually classified into three:
- Copper age. Where the first steps are taken in the smelting and extraction of this mineral, which was used to make instruments, weapons of war and ritual vessels, among other things, despite being a soft metal .
- Bronze age . A step forward in the knowledge of metals by humanity was represented by alloys, especially those of copper with tin, to produce bronze, with more resistant and less oxidizable properties, and thus start the use of this metal in our civilizations. , which still survives today.
- Iron age . The discovery of iron , despite being the most abundant element on the Earth’s surface, occurred 7,000 years after the knowledge of copper and 2,500 years after that of bronze, but it soon became the most valuable metal known, especially for who learned to obtain various steels , resistant as well as moldable.
- Middle Ages . The Middle Ages represented a slowdown in human technological development, especially in the West , since religion and mystical thought replaced reason and demonized ancient knowledge for almost fifteen centuries. Meanwhile, other peoples such as the Muslim or the Chinese flourished and took important steps in chemistry, physics and mathematics .
- Modern Age . The Modern Age is characterized by the commitment to scientific and technological progress, especially after the Renaissance and the Scientific Revolution to which it led in the 15th and 16th centuries. The Industrial Revolution, between the 18th and 19th centuries, allowed human beings to develop the first machines, mechanical devices and profound transformations of materials, generating a very high ecological impact but advancing by leaps and bounds in understanding the universe.
- Contemporary Age . The Contemporary Age is ongoing, and it refers to the last two centuries of our history, in which our technological reach has forever revolutionized the way we understand ourselves and understand life on our planet . It has even allowed us to start space exploration, extend our life expectancy and eradicate diseases, although at a very high environmental, moral and ethical cost .
Causes of technological evolution
Curiosity is the strongest motivation towards technological change.
Technological evolution is driven by various economic, social and cultural reasons, which can be summarized as:
- The desire for a more pleasant life. The fight against death is a fundamental thrust in human inventiveness, as is the desire to have more time to invest in pleasures, or to work less and lead a more fulfilling life.
- Human curiosity. We are a curious species, who like to learn, discover new things and understand the world around them. That is, in many cases, the strongest motivation for technological change .
Consequences of technological evolution
Technological evolution has many consequences on a daily basis, which can go towards the improvement of our daily life ( less effort, less suffering, satisfaction of certain desires ) or also to its detriment (new forms of oppression, new forms of war, new diseases).
Technology is completely amoral and depending on how we use it, we can generate positive and balanced changes , or we can throw the world headlong into ruin.
The rise of computers ushered in globalization.
Throughout our history as a species there have been several technological revolutions, that is, times when the emergence of knowledge and technology radically and definitively alter the way we live and relate to the world. Some examples are:
- The Neolithic Revolution (10,000 BC approximately). When agriculture was discovered and nomadism was abandoned in favor of the first cities .
- The Industrial Revolution (1780-1840). It exercised the largest and most profound number of changes in human society since the Neolithic , moving from the traditional rural economy to the industrialized urban economy , with the factory as the main axis.
- The Technical Revolution (1880-1920). Called the Second Industrial Revolution, in which the market economy was globalized and the effects of the first expanded throughout the world.
- The Digital Revolution (1985-2000). Consequence of the change that the appearance of computers and computer networks exerted on the social, work and economic dynamics of the world, opening the way to globalization .
The technological race, starting in the 20th century , reached unsuspected levels and advanced at a much faster pace than in the rest of the history of the species. This caused voracious technological consumption in societies, a consequence of a greater and greater presence of technology on a day-to-day basis, which is known as hyper technologization.
This phenomenon caused a technological furor that in certain sectors elicited the opposite response : nostalgia for the “better times” of medieval times or antiquity and the resumption of lost traditions. Even outdated thoughts are retaken, which under the distrust of modernity , return as conspiracy theories: flat Earth, anti-vaccines, etc.
The future of technology
The possibilities for the future of technology are endless but dangerous.
The question about the technological future is difficult to answer, but it is full of dreams. The stories of science fiction dreamed of a postindustrial complex world in which the thoughts themselves of the human body , of the natural and the artificial being erased.
Huge space empires were also envisioned, in which humanity leaves its planet and expands across the galaxy . The possibilities are endless, but dangerous : others have envisioned a humanity defeated and subdued by its own intelligent devices, or simply extinct in the middle of a nuclear war.
Timeline of the history of technology
- 000 a. C. Neolithic Revolution
- 300 a. C. Foundation in Sumer of Uruk, the first city.
- 000 a. C. Invention of writing and the end of prehistory .
- 387 a. C . Plato founds the Academy of Athens.
- 48 a. C. Burning of the Library of Alexandria.
- 475 d. C. Beginning of the Middle Ages and obscurantism .
- 900. The compass is invented in China .
- 1492. Columbus arrives in America . The Modern Age begins.
- 1543. Nicolás Copernicus publishes his heliocentric theory.
- 1774. The first steam engine is built and the Industrial Revolution begins.
- 1850. The Second Industrial Revolution begins.
- 1957. The USSR puts Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite, into orbit.
- 1981. The first IBM personal computer is marketed.
- 2001. Sequencing of 90% of the human genome.
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