7 junio, 2024

Technological knowledge: what it is, characteristics, examples

What is technological knowledge?

He technological knowledge refers to a set of knowledge aimed at the creation, manipulation and evaluation of technological artifacts. It is a form of knowledge that goes beyond the observation of existing phenomena. His interest is in the creation of new artifacts or systems and in solving problems or needs through new technological instruments.

Technological knowledge is possessed by people. For example, someone may know how to make a radio, a compass, or a television. However, the most advanced technological know-how is often held by large companies or governments. For example, the knowledge to make electric cars, to make weapons, rockets, chips, sensors, etc.

It is based on inventiveness and innovation, since it is oriented towards the manufacture of things that do not exist. Possible artifacts that are based on natural and scientific principles, but that require the creative spark to come true.

This type of knowledge is born from curiosity, from a problem that must be solved or a need that requires satisfaction. That is why it is essential for the development of society and has a great impact on it.

Great historical milestones began with the development of a technological device. An example of this is the Industrial Revolution, when machines were invented to streamline production processes, but also to transform the entire organization of society.

Technological knowledge: scientific basis of technology

Technological knowledge depends on inventiveness and technical knowledge; however, it cannot be understood simply as “know-how”.

To develop technological knowledge, it is necessary to have scientific knowledge as a basis. For example, the design and manufacture of airplanes depends on a scientific base called aerodynamics, which in turn is a branch of physics.

However, scientific theories are not the only basis. There are also technologically based theories that have arisen precisely from the creation of new artifacts.

An example of this knowledge is aeronautics, which brings together the laws for the design and manufacture of aircraft. These technological theories also include cybernetics, hydrodynamics, and network theory.

In turn, there are two types of technological theories: substantive and operational.

The substantive theories explain the laws of a technological phenomenon. For example, they can describe the mechanism that makes airplanes fly.
The operational theories they explain the actions that depend on the functioning of an artifact. For example, they may describe the methods for organizing air traffic.

Characteristics of technological knowledge

Technological knowledge enjoys a series of characteristics that differentiate it from scientific knowledge and empirical knowledge:

is codable: todo technological knowledge can be accurately translated into drawings, mathematical formulas, numbers or verbal descriptions. Thanks to this, it is possible to consign, explain and transmit it. For example, the operation of an airplane can be coded through a drawing or a visual design that explains the operation of the machine, combined with the physical formulas that explain its operation.
is transmittable: It has the possibility of being transmitted, communicated or explained to other people. This characteristic is directly related to codification: the more codifiable knowledge is, the easier it is to transmit. Thanks to this characteristic, it is possible to achieve that an invention can be passed from generation to generation and be applied by others and improved more and more.
is observable: YoEven when it comes to microscopic or virtual technologies, as they are mechanisms created by humans, there is always a way to observe how they work.
It is dependent:cAny technological knowledge always depends on other knowledge, which can be scientific or empirical. This means that in order to understand the operation of any mechanism, it is always necessary to have some prior information. Prior knowledge does not always have to be complex: for example, to understand the mechanism of an airplane, you need to understand some physical laws. However, to understand how the wheel works, empirical observation is enough.
It is verifiable:cAny technological knowledge is aimed at creating or understanding the operation of some artifact, which is why it is always verifiable. That is to say, that all theories can be verified thanks to the observation or the use of a given artifact.

Differences with scientific knowledge

Technological knowledge is not simply the application of scientific knowledge. As proof of this, there are complex human works that are attributed to a very elaborate technological process, but whose creation was not supported by scientific theories.

This is the case of the Egyptian pyramids and the Roman aqueducts, highly sophisticated buildings that were built before the development of modern science.

There are also cases of inventions that were developed without the participation of science, but that even later contributed to the development of new scientific theories.

An example of them is the aeolipile, the first steam engine manufactured in the first century by Heron of Alexandria. This artifact was not the result of scientific theories, but it did contribute to the development of thermodynamics.

On the other hand, technological knowledge requires a value that scientific knowledge lacks: inventiveness.

Pure science is not enough to be able to create new instruments, it is also necessary a deduction capacity that allows us to intuit how nature can be used to create new artifacts.

Finally, another fundamental difference is the intention. The purpose of scientific knowledge is to observe and understand the laws of natural phenomena. Instead, the purpose of technology is to formulate new laws to create artificial phenomena.

In this sense, technological knowledge must face problems related to creation, such as the cost-benefit ratio, feasibility, social responsibility, environmental cost, and other ethical dilemmas.

The social impact of technological knowledge

Technological knowledge has been the trigger for great social changes in recent centuries. This is because technology is a creation of the human being that seeks to respond to different types of needs.

When a new technology appears to satisfy a certain need, it not only changes the way of doing things, but also all the social dynamics that surround it.

There are many clear examples of this. The industrial loom, for example, allowed textile production to be more agile, but the social reality went much further. This device was the trigger of the industry and at the same time of the Industrial Revolution.

The contemporary world has been shaped in many ways by technology. Industries, means of transportation, computers and the Internet are just some of the examples of how technological knowledge transforms the entire way of life of humanity.

Examples of Technological Knowledge

The manufacture of nuclear microscopes. The assembly of devices in robotics. Chip manufacturing. The assembly of the electronic parts of a smart mobile. The manufacture of electric cars. Manufacture of synthetic dental pieces. The manufacture of nuclear bombs. Manufacture of automatic weapons and anti-aircraft missiles. The arrangement and balance of magnetic resonance devices. Internet installation in houses and buildings.


Ciapuscio, H. (1996). Technological knowledge. Retrieved from redalyc.org.
Cupani, A. (2006). The peculiarity of technological knowledge. Retrieved from journals.usp.br.
Houkes, W. (2009). The Nature of Technological Knowledge. Retrieved from academia.edu.
Joyanes, L. (SF). The importance of technological knowledge. Recovered from ilustrados.com.
Nieto, M. (2006). Characteristics of technological knowledge and innovation appropriation mechanisms. Retrieved from redaedem.org.

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