Has Technology Evolved Over Time?
Technology - one of the most famous words that instantly denotes modernism!! We live in the 21st century and hardly a day goes by where we don’t mention this word. It has become so popular! But “technology” is a relative term as it applies to a particular period.
Was there any "technology" as such during ancient times?
Has technology evolved over time?
Technology During Prehistoric Times
During prehistoric times, about 2.8 million years ago, the hominids or the great apes used stone tools to start a fire, hunt animals, cut food and bury their dead. So, this “stone tool” was kind of technology 2.8 million years ago. It served a specific purpose and helped the earlier humans to carry on with their daily life activities.
Eventually, with the evolution of the great apes, these stone tools were greatly developed, more enhanced. Then came the Paleolithic Age wherein the use of hand-ax came into existence to chop down trees, make shelters, using the wood to sustain fire, etc.
The tools were transformed into small blades, knives, arrows during the Mesolithic Age. The tools were being made out of polished stones, bones of animals during the Neolithic Age. These were used in agriculture or also to make musical instruments. The wheel was introduced for making pottery, which later would help to shorten distances by the invention of vehicles.
Then the Bronze Age saw the use of copper and its alloy - bronze - to make tools. Lastly, there was the Iron Age and the best tools and weapons were made using steel.
With the Industrial Revolution, it transformed the way humans used technology. Steam was introduced as the primary energy source to drive heavy machinery and mass production was possible. It paved the way for the technology that would be introduced in the coming years.
Technology During Last 3 Centuries
In the modern era, technology saw rapid growth since the early 1800s.
Industrial Revolution – early 1800s
With the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in the early 1800s, the use of technologies for steam power and electricity brought significant changes in the world at that time. The first reliable steam engine was introduced by James Watt in 1775. Heavy machinery and industrial tools increased the rate of production in factories.
Technological Revolution – early 1900s
Also knows as Second Industrial Revolution, this era saw the introduction of significant technologies like telegraph, railroad networks, water supply, and sewage systems. The use of electricity came into existence publicly after Thomas Alva Edison invented the incandescent light bulb that could utilize electricity to provide light. The telephone was invented by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876.
Digital Revolution – late 1900s
This marked the beginning of the use of digital electronics somewhere around the 1950s. The first working transistor was introduced during this period and also using silicon as a semiconductor. MOS ICs started entering into the market during the 1960s and Intel released the first 4-bit CPU in 1971.
After this, the technological growth was extremely fast with the introduction of home computers, video game consoles, MP3 players, HD televisions, etc in the next decade.
In 1989, the World Wide Web was invented by Tim Berners-Lee. This changed the networking and communication systems forever and we use it to date.
The Internet started reaching many homes during 1990-2000 with a constant increase in personal computers people owned. The world’s first smartphone was created by IBM in 1992 and was called Simon Personal Communicator.
The first social media site was sixdegrees.com in 1997 where people could create a profile and make friends with other people.
Cell phones started becoming popular in the 2000s. Then in social media space, YouTube came into existence in 2004, and Twitter and Facebook by 2006. These sites remain most popular to date.
The population of the Internet reached 1 billion in 2005, over 2 billion in 2012 and by 2016, almost half of the world’s population was connected with the Internet!
Technology in Other Areas
Technology is not only limited to gadgets like smartphones, laptops, TVs, etc. There are other areas like Space, Energy, Agriculture, Medical, Home Automation, etc.
Space missions like the Voyager I and II proved that humans can conquer space and beyond. NASA’s Mars mission - Curiosity and India’s Mars mission – Mars Orbiter Mission – proved that humans can reach and analyze other planets.
Using other forms of energy like nuclear, solar, lithium-ion rechargeable batteries, etc. to avoid usage of fossil fuels is a technological breakthrough.
Technologies exist in Agricultural fields in the form of efficient management of crop cycle using robots, temperature sensing devices, GPS, aerial images, etc. It also includes the use of efficient machines for sowing, fertilizing, irrigation, harvesting, etc.
Medical technologies like robotic surgery, 3-D printing, artificial organs, health wearables, ultrasound imaging devices, etc. are helping many people to maintain a healthy life and prolong it.
With the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in the early 1800s, the use of technologies forsteam power and electricity brought significant changes in the world at that time. The first reliable steam engine was introduced by James Watt in 1775. Heavy machinery and industrial tools increased the rate of production in factories.
Home Automation technologies for controlling lighting, climate, entertainment systems, home appliances, smart cooking devices, refrigerators, etc. are changing the way people live.
In addition to the above, many other technologies exist like nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, robotics, virtual reality, augmented reality, IoT, etc. These are aimed to improve the quality of life of all human beings, save time and make lives easier.
Technology Should Serve a Purpose
The ultimate aim of any kind of technology should be to serve a purpose. Without that, there is no particular objective as to what that technology will do or achieve. It should solve the problems of everyday life, communication, problems of space, time, matter, energy, etc.
As there is a certain amount of cost involved in any technology, the time and effort put into any kind of innovation, it should be utilized properly. It should serve a purpose.
This is the real challenge because sometimes technology may fail to serve a real purpose.
For example, take Windows 8. Though it appealed to the users working on tablets and small portable devices, it failed significantly on desktops, where the mainstream users are. People did not like the user interface of Windows 8. It was too clumsy and difficult to operate, especially for desktop systems. It did not serve a purpose as a stable and nice OS like Windows 7 was.
Technology – The Road Ahead
With the increasing innovations in the field of technology, this is just the beginning. Technology is growing at an exponential rate, instead of linear. The road ahead will mostly include A.I. and robots.
Humans are creating machines but machines are becoming smarter than humans.
Soon, all the areas will see an increased use of robots and A.I. to solve complex problems. As technology is becoming smaller in size, it is becoming smarter and more energy-efficient to solve any problem in the shortest possible time.
New and amazing gadgets will enter into society and change the way we live today. The road ahead seems promising for a new era of technologies.
Thus, this is how technology has evolved from the prehistoric age until today. From the ancient stone tools to modern systems, it has been a long way in the field of technology.
Till the Industrial Revolution, this growth was quite linear. But now the technology is growing exponentially, meaning, it will grow even more rapidly than it has been in the past two decades.
With inventors finding new ways to fit their products into society, we’ll see an increased use of Artificial Intelligence and Robots soon. Machines are already becoming smarter than humans. One day will come where machines or robots will easily surpass humans in physiological, intelligence, psychological, thinking ability, agility, etc.
But we should be careful about the use of technology. If it falls into the wrong hands, this will prove a big problem for the next generations to come. What can be used to create, may also be used to destroy. With increasing political events and tensions around the globe, every country is investing in the weapons of the future, as a precaution.
There should be some control over the way we are using technology to enhance our lives. We should not become the architect of our destruction!