Technology, like “art,” is not a terribly easy word to define. It turns out that some philosophers have already done a decent job of parceling out categories, and I think they are helpful enough to list them out here. These definitions come from Stephen J. Kline’s 1985 article “What is Technology” found in the Bulletin of Science, Technology, & Society.
1. Technology as Hardware – this is the basic level that most of us mean when we use the word “technology.” As a piece of hardware (or an “artifact” for the anthropologist or “cultural good” for the sociologist), “technology” could be a clock, a shovel, a laptop, a belt, a thermometer, a can of root beer, a canteen, a tank, or a fake duck decoy. These are basically things do not occur “naturally” – which, for theists, are things God himself did not make. [As commenter Eric pointed out, this is a very broad definition which overlaps with things we would normally call art. I would also point out that this definition encompasses things that animals might make like bees’ hives and beavers’ dams.]
2. Technology as Manufacturing – taking a step back from the devices in our pockets and on our desks (and the desk itself) are the things that are used to make all these other things. Technology as manufacturing includes not just about the vat holding the molten steel for our next car or the robot putting together our next computer, but also the entire process (or “sociotechnical system,” as the philosophers say) from the people running the machines to the electrical grid powering the plant to the legislation passed that regulates the industry. This conception of technology was largely non-existent before the Industrial Revolution.by