Browse Definitions :

78 Questions to Ask About Any Technology

“78 Questions to Ask about Any Technology” is a list designed to inform users as to the advisability of developing or continuing to support a given technology, based on the person's answers to the questions. The list was first written about in Stephanie Mills’ book “Turning Away from Technology.” Mills adapted her list from 76 questions created by the philosopher and sociologist Jacques Ellul.

Mills' 78 questions list was created in acknowledgement that technologies are often developed without adequate thought as to the effect they will have on people and their environments. The purpose of asking 78 questions is to try and ensure that  thoughtful and ethical technology developments will lead to more positive effects.

The questions on Mills' list are organized into nine areas of concern:

Practical: For example, how much does it cost; how may it be dealt with at the end of its useful life?

Aesthetic: For example, is it ugly; how will it affect the user’s quality of life?

Ecological: For example, how might the technology impact the health of users and their natural environments?

Ethical: For example, what other technologies might it lead to; can we be responsible for its effects?

Social: For example, does it serve community; how does it or will it affect the social relationships of users?

Vocational: For example, what are its effects on human creativity; does it aid or replace humans?

Political: For example, does it require military defense; does it foster groupthink?

Moral: For example, what will the effects be on the least advantaged members of society?

Metaphysical: For example, what might it be said to represent in terms of the human inner self; does it express love or anger?

Watch Jacques Ellul’s commentary on the 78 Questions list, in his video series, The Betrayal by Technology:

This was last updated in September 2019

Continue Reading About 78 Questions to Ask About Any Technology

  • pure risk

    Pure risk refers to risks that are beyond human control and result in a loss or no loss with no possibility of financial gain.

  • risk reporting

    Risk reporting is a method of identifying risks tied to or potentially impacting an organization's business processes.

  • risk profile

    A risk profile is a quantitative analysis of the types of threats an organization, asset, project or individual faces.

  • script kiddie

    Script kiddie is a derogative term that computer hackers coined to refer to immature, but often just as dangerous, exploiters of ...

  • cipher

    In cryptography, a cipher is an algorithm for encrypting and decrypting data.

  • What is risk analysis?

    Risk analysis is the process of identifying and analyzing potential issues that could negatively impact key business initiatives ...

  • What is risk mitigation?

    Risk mitigation is a strategy to prepare for and lessen the effects of threats faced by a business.

  • fault-tolerant

    Fault-tolerant technology is a capability of a computer system, electronic system or network to deliver uninterrupted service, ...

  • synchronous replication

    Synchronous replication is the process of copying data over a storage area network, local area network or wide area network so ...

  • gigabyte (GB)

    A gigabyte (GB) -- pronounced with two hard Gs -- is a unit of data storage capacity that is roughly equivalent to 1 billion ...

  • MRAM (magnetoresistive random access memory)

    MRAM (magnetoresistive random access memory) is a method of storing data bits using magnetic states instead of the electrical ...

  • storage volume

    A storage volume is an identifiable unit of data storage. It can be a removable hard disk, but it does not have to be a unit that...