Technology is a big deal. It is the driving force behind the economy and the linchpin of contemporary society. However, there is a lot more to technology than just making things and selling them. Technological artifacts serve a purpose, but they are also subject to the whims of a particular creator.
As a discipline, philosophy of technology has emerged during the last two centuries. Some of the earliest examples of philosophical reflection on technology were written in the ancient Greeks and Romans. During the late nineteenth century, philosophical reflection on technology took a critical turn.
There are three core categories of philosophers of technology: humanities, analytic, and political. Humanities scholars are mostly concerned with the technical and social implications of technology, but few actually analyze the technology itself. Analytic philosophers of technology examine how the nexus between science and technology affects our lives. Political approaches, on the other hand, conceive of technology as a phenomenon controlled by institutional power relations.
A few decades ago, philosophers were impressed by a number of technological advances. However, comparatively little thought has been given to the best process for discovering and implementing new technologies.
Similarly, there has been a lack of a clear cut definition of the operational principle. In its simplest form, the operational principle posits that if one wants to achieve X, then one should do Y. Various forms of technology have been proposed for this task, from railroads to computers.
One could argue that the most important function of technology is its ability to serve as a conduit for communicating knowledge. This is especially true of information technology, which requires a technologically sound infrastructure to transmit data to other researchers.