Technology is a practice that involves the creation of artifacts and services that serve a specific purpose. Artifacts can be man-made objects or works of art. Some technology may be autonomous, meaning that it can be morally responsible for its own actions.
The history of philosophy of technology is one of slow, converging strands of philosophical thinking. Philosophical reflection on technology has increased over the last two centuries. It began with an academic outsider, Ellul, who recognized technology as the dominant response to human knowledge.
Philosophy of technology has focused on the meaning of technology to society. Specifically, it has investigated the relationship between technological action and rationality.
In this era of economic growth, technology has become an important cultural force. This is reflected in a number of political approaches to technology. One political approach, based on pragmatism, conceives of technology as a phenomenon ruled by institutional power relations. Another, influenced by discourse ethics, conceives of technology as a political phenomenon.
Many technologists and engineers are intrinsically motivated to create change in the world. A large part of their motivation is the prospect of great profits. Other powerful motivators include the need for safety and efficiency. These are often the values that define the design of technologies.
Most philosophical work on technology has been focused on the social, political, and cultural impact of technology. However, little work has been done on the process by which it is discovered. Currently, there is a debate over how to best determine what is needed to discover the most effective technological process.