History of Technology


Technology has been used in human history to improve the lives of individuals, communities, and societies. It began when humans learned how to convert natural resources into tools that would make life easier. The discovery of fire in prehistoric times increased food sources, and the wheel enabled people to move around their environments more easily. In more recent times, technology has enabled us to communicate with each other more easily, and the telephone and Internet have significantly reduced barriers to communication. However, not all technology has been used for good; many human societies have used technology for war and political oppression.

The late nineteenth century saw vigorous debates about foundational questions. While the issues in these discussions are not directly related to the world of technology, they reveal the close association between the worlds of philosophers and scientists. The central questions of philosophy and science, in particular, deal with human action and practical rationality. These discussions were crucial to the development of science and technology.

Artifacts are man-made objects that have an author and a purpose. In this context, technology is any creation that is made for a purpose, and that includes technological artifacts. Byproducts and waste products, however, do not belong in this category. They are byproducts of a process that was intended to create something else, and their author may be aware of this.