KIT Center Humans and Technology

Topic Knowledge and Technology

Technology is knowledge stored in artefacts. Development, manufacture, design, and use of technology is impossible without knowledge. Today, technical innovations are mainly based on scientific knowledge. However, they are possible only, if appropriate societal boundary conditions exist. Knowledge is also produced by new technology, e.g. in the form of new work practices induced by new technology. Constant improvement of technologies results in innovations and new knowledge. Hence, technology is knowledge, technology is produced by knowledge, and technology acts as a driver of new knowledge.

Knowledge without technology may be feasible in principle, but storage, archiving, detailing, and systematization, transmission, and conveying of knowledge require technology or technologies. Current examples are developments of information and communication technologies, which contribute to an enormous dissemination of knowledge. Technicization of work, private, and public life changes the importance of certain types of knowledge and application practices, which is characteristic of the transformation of modern societies to knowledge societies.

Knowledge also is the basis of political, social, entrepreneurial, or individual decisions on the development, use, or control of new knowledge and new technology. Progress in science and technology today cannot be achieved without ambivalences between the benefit for the society and unintended risks. This will always give rise to questions concerning the production, distribution, accessibility, and ownership of the knowledge required for these decisions as well as to questions concerning funding, design, control, risk assessment, and conflict management of science and technology.

Also science itself changes. Science is increasingly integrated in decision processes of society and changed by them at the same time, as scientific knowledge is increasingly required in political opinion forming and science is increasingly influenced or even instrumentalized by external societal interests. New types of production and new forms of scientific knowledge occur. Keywords in this connection are strategic knowledge, preventative research, problem-oriented research, or commercialization.

Investigation of basic topics of knowledge, science, and technology research and analysis of material-related and application-oriented aspects require the cooperation of the humanities, social sciences, economics, law, engineering, and natural sciences as envisaged under the “Knowledge and Technology” Topic.