Kranzberg’s laws of technology

The development of technology and technical progress is very noticeable. Actions that seemed impossible over the years often become normal. Have you wondered about the nature of technology?

Recently, I came across a set of rules regarding technology. It turned out that many years ago, there was a discussion about the dangers of dynamic development.

Dr. Melvin Kranzberg was a professor of the history of technology at the Georgia Institute of Technology. In 1985, he gave a speech referred to as Kranzberg’s Laws - a series of truisms. I will only indicate some of them. I will focus on those that are especially important to me.

Technology is neither good nor bad; nor is it neutral

It may be surprising. Technology itself has no character at all. Only its interaction with society and the environment matters. Technical developments often have environmental, social, and human consequences beyond the technical devices’ immediate goals.

A good example is the use of steam engines that resulted in the industrial revolution. It was a process of technological, economic, social, and cultural change. However, the steam engine itself did not cause all of this.

The same technology may have completely different results when introduced in different contexts or under other circumstances. Knowledge about nuclear energy can be used for war purposes, but it can also be used as a means of safe and clean energy.

Invention is the mother of necessity

Each technical innovation seems to require additional technical advances to be fully effective. The need for communication meant that a telegraph was created. Later, based on knowledge and current possibilities, landline phones could be created.

New requirements for these devices meant that mobile phones began to debut. We can observe similar changes in the context of car production. The first mass-produced products made it possible to popularize this method of transport. Nowadays, we often cannot imagine our life without them.

New needs, as well as new technical possibilities, make the impossible possible.


Each technology is a team of people behind it. If misused, it can cause enormous damage. However, this does not mean that it is bad in itself.

It all depends on us - the people. We have to be responsible for ourselves and others. After all, what we do today can have a huge impact on the world we see tomorrow.

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