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Many technological processes produce unwanted by-products known as pollution and deplete natural resources to the detriment of Earth's environment.
Innovations have always influenced the values of a society and raised new questions of the ethics of technology.
The exact relations between science and technology in particular have been debated by scientists, historians, and policymakers in the late 20th century, in part because the debate can inform the funding of basic and applied science.
In the immediate wake of World War II, for example, it was widely considered in the United States that technology was simply "applied science" and that to fund basic science was to reap technological results in due time.
Not all technology enhances culture in a creative way; technology can also help facilitate political oppression and war via tools such as guns.
As a cultural activity, technology predates both science and engineering, each of which formalize some aspects of technological endeavor.
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.
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.
Developments in historic times, including the printing press, the telephone, and the Internet, have lessened physical barriers to communication and allowed humans to interact freely on a global scale.
The steady progress of military technology has brought weapons of ever-increasing destructive power, from clubs to nuclear weapons. It has helped develop more advanced economies (including today's global economy) and has allowed the rise of a leisure class.
In this usage, technology refers to tools and machines that may be used to solve real-world problems.