Technology is the application of knowledge to achieve practical goals in a way that is reproducible and measurable. It can include both tangible tools, such as utensils or machines, and intangible ones, such as computer software. Often, the word technology refers to the products that result from such efforts; however, it also may be used to describe the processes by which such tools or machines are created. For example, a scientific study of the flow of electrons in electrical conductors leads to the development of semiconductors, which can be considered an industrial technology.
In the context of human society, technology has been a driving force behind many of our major changes. The evolution of agriculture and food processing allowed the growth of populations; the discovery of fire increased available resources for food and shelter; the invention of bows and arrows, gunpowder, and nuclear weapons dramatically changed the nature and scope of warfare; and the development of communications technologies has reduced barriers to social interaction, allowing us to become more interconnected than ever before.
Despite the impressive outcomes of technological discoveries and developments, it is important to remember that people remain at the heart of every technological process. In the creation of technology, people are constantly deliberating about the ends they wish to accomplish; the tools they choose are often an extension of their own values and beliefs. This is why it is so difficult to make certain that a technology will succeed, or even survive: apparently promising early technologies frequently stall midway through their development, and some subsequently prove to be dangerous.