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What is technology anyway?

Even if the term technology is firmly anchored in our linguistic usage, not everyone understands the same thing by a long way. For once, we don't want to be practical today, but rather theoretically with the question “What actually is technology?” deal and approach the term from a scientific point of view.

There is talk of technological developments everywhere, but what exactly is technology? © trushir19 / pixabay.de

What is technology anyway?

For the origin of the term technology, it is best to travel back to ancient Greece first, because that is where the word originated. It can be broken down into the terms “Techné” and “Logos”. The root word “Techné” describes a skill, an art (skill) or a craft and “logos” means something like teaching or science. Literally translated, a “technology” is the “doctrine of (craft) art”. In fact, the term technology is often briefly defined as the "science of technology," which comes close to literal translation.

The “technology” also includes the term “technology”, the meaning of which must also be briefly clarified in the following for a better understanding.

Technology or engineering?

Technology refers to man-made objects (artifacts), the use of which is part of a purpose-oriented action. This is also taken into account in the VDI guideline, which states that technology
● "[...] the amount of use-oriented, artificial, objective structures (artifacts or factual systems),
● the amount of human actions and facilities in which material systems arise,
● the amount of human activity in which factual systems are used. "

Technology definition

The scientist and former president of the Frauenhofer Gesellschaft, Hans-Jörg Bullinger, provides a catchy definition of the term technology, who initially understands it to be “[...] the set of all known possible methods to achieve a goal in a defined area of ​​application [...]”. The technology goes beyond a pure focus on technology and, in addition to the purely technical representations, findings and principles, also includes all other relevant environmental factors (e.g. economic, legal and social factors) that affect the process of action and contribute to the setting of goals.
For a better differentiation between the terms "technology" and "technology", Bullinger’s system approach is recommended, in which a rough distinction is made between the knowledge base (input), problem solving (process) and problem solving (output). This approach underscores the understanding of technology as a superordinate term which, compared to technology, also includes the additional knowledge base from which the process and output emerge.

The system approach for the concept of technology (closely based on Bullinger 1994b, p. 34)

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● Bullinger, Hans-Jörg (1994a): What is technology assessment? Introduction and overview. In: Bullinger, Hans-Jörg (Ed.): Technology assessment. Teubner, Stuttgart. P. 3-31.
● Bullinger, Hans-Jörg (1994b): Introduction to Technology Management. Models, methods, practical examples. Teubner, Stuttgart.