History of Technology/Technological Determinism

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Technological determinism is a term that encompasses a wide range of ideas in practice, from technology-push or the technological imperative to a strict sense that human destiny is driven by an underlying logic associated with scientific laws and their manifestation in technology. Most interpretations of technological determinism share two general ideas: that the development of technology itself follows a path largely beyond cultural or political influence, and that technology in turn has "effects" on societies that are inherent, rather than socially conditioned. For example, one might say that the motor car necessarily leads to the development of roads. However, a nationwide road network is not economically viable for just a handful of cars, so new methods of production are developed to reduce the cost of car ownership. Mass car ownership also leads to a higher incidence of accidents on the roads, which leads to the invention of new techniques in healthcare for repairing damaged bodies. It would also be possible to claim that a road network changes the way in which goods are distributed around the country and this, in turn, changes a populations' patterns of consumption. The car also made the suburbs possible.

Technological determinism stands in opposition to the theory of the social construction of technology, which holds that both the path of innovation and the consequences of technology for humans are strongly if not entirely shaped by society itself, through the influence of culture, politics, economic arrangements, and the like.