Technology is the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, especially in industry. Technology is a tool that can be used to solve real-world problems. The field of Science, Technology, and Society (STS) “seeks to promote cross-disciplinary integration, civic engagement, and critical thinking” of concepts in the worlds of science and technology (Harvard University, n.d.). As an aspect of everyday life, technology is continuously evolving to ensure that humanity can be productive, efficient, and follow the path of globalization. STS is a concept that encompasses countless fields of study. “Scientists, engineers, and medical professionals swim (as they must) in the details of their technical work: experiments, inventions, treatments and cures. “promotes cross-disciplinary integration, civic engagement, and critical thinking”It’s an intense and necessary focus” (Stanford University, n.d.). On the opposite side of the spectrum is STS, which “draws attention to the water: the social, political, legal, economic, and cultural environment that shapes research and invention, supports or inhibits it — and is in turn shaped by evolving science and technology” (Stanford University, n.d.). Technology is a crucial part of life that is constantly developing to fit the changing needs of society and aiding humanity in simplifying the demands of everyday life.
According to Oberdan (2010), science and technology share identical goals. “At first glance, they seem to provide a deep and thorough going division between the two but, as the discussion progresses, it will become clear that there are, indeed, areas of overlap, too” (Oberdan, 25). Philosophers believe that for a claim to be considered knowledge, it must first be justified, like a hypothesis, and true. Italian astronomer, physicist, and engineer, Galileo Galilei, was incredibly familiar with the obstacles involved with proving something to be a fact or a theory within the scientific world. Galileo was condemned by the Roman Catholic church for his beliefs that contradicted existing church doctrine (Coyne, 2013). Galileo’s discoveries, although denounced by the church were incredibly innovative and progressive for their time, and are still seen as the basis for modern astronomy today. Nearly 300 years later, Galileo was eventually forgiven by the church, and to this day he is seen as one of the most well known and influential astronomers of all time. Many new innovations and ideas often receive push back before becoming revolutionary and universal practices.
INNOVATION IN TECHNOLOGY
Flash forward to modern time where we can see that innovation is happening even more around us. Look no further than what could be considered the culmination of modern technological innovation: the mobile phone. Cell phone technology has developed exponentially since the invention of the first mobile phone in 1973 (Seward, 2013). Although there was a period for roughly 20 years in which cell phones were seen as unnecessary and somewhat impractical, as society’s needs changed and developed in the late 1990s, there was a large spike in consumer purchases of mobile phones. Now, cell phones are an entity that can be seen virtually anywhere, which is in large part due to their practicality. Cell phones, specifically smartphones such as Apple’s iPhone, have changed the way society uses technology. Smartphone technology has eliminated the need for people to have a separate cell phone, MP3 player, GPS, mobile video gaming systems, and more. Consumers may fail to realize how many aspects of modern technological advancement are involved in the use of their mobile phones. Cell phones use wifi to browse the internet, use google, access social media, and more. Although these technologies are beneficial, they also allow consumers locations to be traced and phone conversations to be recorded. Modern cell phone technologies collect data on consumers, and many people are unsure how this information is being used. Additionally, mobile phones come equipped with virus protection which brings the field of cybersecurity into smartphone usage. The technological advances that have been made in the market for mobile phones have been targeted towards the changing needs of consumers and society. As proven by the rise in cell phones, with advancements in the field of STS comes new unforeseen obstacles and ethical dilemmas.
Technology is changing the way we live in this world. Innovations in the scientific world are becoming increasingly more advanced to help conserve earth’s resources and aid in the reduction of pollutants. Transportation is a field that has changed greatly in recent years due to modernization in science and technology, as well as an increased awareness of environmental concerns. The transportation industry continues to be a large producer of pollution
due to emissions from cars, trains, and other modes of transportation. As a result, cars have changed a great deal in recent years. A frontrunner in creating environmentally friendly luxury cars is Tesla, lead by CEO Elon Musk. Although nearly every brand of car has an electric option that either runs completely gas free, or uses significantly less fuel than standard cars, Tesla has taken this one step further and created a zero emissions vehicle. However, some believe that Tesla has taken their innovations in the transportation market a bit too far, specifically with their release of driverless cars.
“The recent reset of expectations on driverless cars is a leading indicator for other types of AI-enabled systems as well,” says David A. Mindell, professor of aeronautics and astronautics, and the Dibner Professor of the History of Engineering and Manufacturing at MIT. “These technologies hold great promise, but it takes time to understand the optimal combination of people and machines. And the timing of adoption is crucial for understanding the impact on workers” (Dizikes, 2019).
As the earth becomes more and more polluted, consumers are seeking to find new ways to cut down on their negative impacts on the earth. Eco-friendly cars are a simple yet effective way in which consumers can cut back on their pollution within their everyday lives.
THE INTERSECTION OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
The way in which energy is generated has changed greatly to benefit consumers and the environment. Energy production has followed a rather linear path over time, and is a prime example of how new innovations stem from old technologies. In the early 1800s, the steam engine acted as the main form of creating energy. It wasn’t until the mid-late 1800s that the combustion engine was invented. This invention was beneficial because it was more efficient than its predecessor, and became a form of energy that was streamlined to be used in countless applications. As time has progressed, this linear path of innovation has continued. As new energy creating technologies have emerged, machinery that was once seen as efficient and effective have been phased out. Today, largely due to the increased demand for clean energy sources, the linear path has split and consumers are faced with numerous options for clean, environmentally friendly energy sources. Over time, scientists and engineers have come to realize that these forms of energy pollute and damage the earth. Solar power, a modern form of clean energy, was once seen as an expensive and impractical way of turning the sun’s energy into usable energy. Now, it is common to see newly built homes with solar panels already built in. Since technology develops to fit the needs of society, scientists have worked to improve solar panels to make them cheaper and easier to access. A total of 173,000 terawatts (trillions of watts) of solar energy strikes the Earth continuously, which is more than 10,000 times of the world’s total energy use (Chandler, 2011). This information may seem staggering, but is crucial in understanding the importance, as well as the large influence that modern forms of energy can have on society.
Technology has become a crucial part of our society. Without technological advancements, so much of our everyday lives would be drastically different. As technology develops, it strives to fulfill the changing needs of society. Technology progresses as society evolves. That being said, progress comes at a price. This price is different for each person, and varies based on how much people value technological and scientific advancements in their own lives. Thomas Parke Hughes’s Networks of Power “compared how electric power systems developed in America, England, and Germany, showing that they required not only electrical but social ‘engineering’ to create the necessary legal frameworks, financing, standards, political support, and organizational designs” (Stanford University). In other words, the scientific invention and production of a new technology does not ensure its success. Technology’s success is highly dependent on society’s acceptance or rejection of a product, as well as whether or not any path dependence is involved. Changing technologies benefit consumers in countless aspects of their lives including in the workforce, in communications, in the use of natural resources, and so much more. These innovations across numerous different markets aid society by making it easier to complete certain tasks. Innovation will never end; rather, it will continue to develop at increasing rates as science and technological fields becomes more and more cutting edge.
- True or False: Improvements in science and technology always benefit society
- Multiple Choice: Technology is:
A. The application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, especially in industry
B. Tools and machines that may be used to solve real-world problems
C. Something that does not change
D. Both A and B
- Short Answer: Discuss ways in which technological progression over time is related and how this relationship has led to the creation of new innovation.
Chandler, D. (2011). Shining brightly: Vast amounts of solar energy radiate to the Earth constantly, but tapping that energy cost-effectively remains a challenge. MIT News. http://news.mit.edu/2011/energy-scale-part3-1026
Coyne, SJ, G. V. (2013). Science meets biblical exegesis in the Galileo affair. Zygon®, 48(1), 221-229. https://doi-org.libproxy.clemson.edu/10.1111/j.1467-9744.2012.01324.x
Dizikes, P., & MIT News Office. (2019). MIT report examines how to make
technology work for society. http://news.mit.edu/2019/work-future-report-technology-jobs-society-0904
Florez, D., García-Duque, C. E., & Osorio, J. C. (2019). Is technology (still) applied science? Technology in Society. Technology in Society, 59. doi: 10.1016/j.techsoc.2019.101193
Groce, J. E., Farrelly, M. A., Jorgensen, B. S., & Cook, C. N. (2019). Using social‐network research to improve outcomes in natural resource management. Conservation biology, 33(1), 53-65. https://conbio.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/cobi.13127
Harvard University. (n.d.) What is STS?. http://sts.hks.harvard.edu/about/whatissts.html.
Union of Concerned Scientists. (2018). How Do Battery Electric Cars Work? https://www.ucsusa.org/clean-vehicles/electric-vehicles/how-do-battery-electric-cars-work.
Oberdan, T. (2010). Science, Technology, and the Texture of Our Lives. Tavenner Publishing Company.
Seward, Z. M. (2013). The First Mobile Phone Call Was Made 40 Years Ago Today. The Atlantic. https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/04/the-first- mobile-phone-call-was-made-40-years-ago-today/274611/.
Stanford University. (n.d.). What is the Study of STS?. https://sts.stanford.edu/about/what-study-sts.
Wei, R., & Lo, V.-H. (2006). Staying connected while on the move: Cell phone use and social connectedness. New Media & Society, 8(1), 53–72. https://doi.org/10.1177/1461444806059870
Winston, B. (2006). Media Technology and Society: A History From the Telegraph to the Internet. London: Routledge.
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Building bridges between science and society for a better future. | Nadine Bongaerts | TEDxSaclay