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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

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