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As a cultural activity, technology predates both science and engineering, each of which formalize some aspects of technological endeavor.Engineering is the goal-oriented process of designing and making tools and systems to exploit natural phenomena for practical human means, often (but not always) using results and techniques from science.This essential new knowledge can be obtained only through basic scientific research." In the late-1960s, however, this view came under direct attack, leading towards initiatives to fund science for specific tasks (initiatives resisted by the scientific community).The issue remains contentious, though most analysts resist the model that technology simply is a result of scientific research.) is first robustly defined by Jacob Bigelow in 1829 as: "...principles, processes, and nomenclatures of the more conspicuous arts, particularly those which involve applications of science, and which may be considered useful, by promoting the benefit of society, together with the emolument [compensation The simplest form of technology is the development and use of basic tools.The prehistoric discovery of how to control fire and the later Neolithic Revolution increased the available sources of food, and the invention of the wheel helped humans to travel in and control their environment.In 1937, the American sociologist Read Bain wrote that "technology includes all tools, machines, utensils, weapons, instruments, housing, clothing, communicating and transporting devices and the skills by which we produce and use them." Bain's definition remains common among scholars today, especially social scientists.

Many technological processes produce unwanted by-products known as pollution and deplete natural resources to the detriment of Earth's environment.

Before the 20th century, the term was uncommon in English, and it was used either to refer to the description or study of the useful arts The term "technology" rose to prominence in the 20th century in connection with the Second Industrial Revolution.

The term's meanings changed in the early 20th century when American social scientists, beginning with Thorstein Veblen, translated ideas from the German concept of Technik into "technology." In German and other European languages, a distinction exists between technik and technologie that is absent in English, which usually translates both terms as "technology." By the 1930s, "technology" referred not only to the study of the industrial arts but to the industrial arts themselves.

A modern example is the rise of communication technology, which has lessened barriers to human interaction and as a result has helped spawn new subcultures; the rise of cyberculture has at its basis the development of the Internet and the computer.

Not all technology enhances culture in a creative way; technology can also help facilitate political oppression and war via tools such as guns.

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