Despite all the negatives we hear about technology, such as security breaches and privacy violations, it's safe to say that many people would be much worse off without it. Technology improves prosperity, provides health care and medical advancements, makes travel and communication faster and easier, protects against climate change, and enables countless other benefits. Yet it also contributes to pollution and resource depletion, creates economic inequality, and even can cause harm directly to individuals or communities.
Technology is created through human creativity, but it takes a lot of work to develop and build the tools that make the creative process possible. It's easy to forget, though, how these tools are made and why they're used in the way they are.
The earliest stone tools were simple affairs, consisting of sharp-edged flakes purposefully and skilfully detached from larger "cores" with cobbles as hammerstones. It took around 2.6 million years for this Oldowan technology to be followed by the more complex Acheulean toolkit.
Today, we're surrounded by advanced technologies like 3D printing (used to create Adidas running shoes and football helmets, among other things), virtual reality, and self-driving cars. These technologies, along with their associated industries and research fields, are the fruit of an enormously varied process of social negotiation, and it's important to understand this complexity in order to assess the impact that technology has on society.
Since the 1980s, studies of technology have shifted away from focusing solely on technology itself and towards considering the role that it plays in the development of societies. This new approach, often referred to as the'social construction of technology' (or SCOT for short), is one of several constructivist ways of studying science and technology, and can be considered both a research method and a theory about the relation between society and technology.