During the Middle Ages, technological progress was remarkable. The Italian Renaissance heightened our appreciation for human creativity. Technology was widely used in the design and construction of buildings and other artifacts. Technology has become an essential part of modern society. However, it can also cause harm.
The origins of technology go back to the Indo-European root tek, which refers to the skills of working with wood. As technology evolved, it broadened to include other technical skills. Some Hippocrates authors, for example, considered medicine to be a form of techne.
Aristotle’s doctrine of the four causes is another early contribution to the philosophy of technology. He referred to the examples of Democritus, who claimed that weaving and house-building were the first artifacts to be created by imitating nature.
Aristotle also believed that artisans were too occupied by the needs of earning a living. He disapproved of them. But his doctrine remained relevant in modern discussions of the metaphysics of artifacts.
Aristotle’s doctrine is often considered to be the third early contribution to the philosophy of technology. Aristotle’s argument is that technology does not imitate nature. He also said that technology is the dominant answer to human action.
In the early 1900s, German engineers articulated a broad concept of technology. They called it Technik. The term was translated into English as ‘technology’ by Thorstein Veblen in 1908.
In the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the IT industry experienced an increase in computing power. As computing capabilities increased, the cost of devices decreased. As the IT industry continued to develop, the number of devices used increased.