Date of Award

Spring 5-6-2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Computer and Information Technology

First Advisor

Eric T. Matson


The ultimate goals of this study were to determine ways to reconcile technology with public interest and to understand the relationship between what we know and how we feel about technology. To achieve the goals, related literatures were reviewed; the mechanism of technology development was described with empirical data; and human perception of technology was tested with a survey. The duality of technology that implied technological inherencies of technical reason and social meanings was the principle assumption of the study. Neutrality of technology becomes a myth with the presence of social meanings embodied in technology. Given the huge impact of technology on human societies, the absence of neutrality is, in turn, attributed to the necessity for policy.

Analyses of eight empirical cases of technology in history based on the method of grounded theory provided core categories of technical progress, economic values, and social inclinations. Upon the core categories and concepts corroborated by the cases, the mechanism of technology development appeared to be a concatenation of the interactions between technical progress and social demand of either economic values or social inclinations. Technology that is pertinent to public interest, in this context, will be possible if a social inclination toward public interest can be built. The state can shape a social inclination of the kind and intervene in the mechanism of technology development. Furthermore, such an intervention could be accelerated by the potency of the collective actions of citizens. If successful, technology will incorporate the social value of public interest and the paradigm of technology will embrace it.

Survey responses indicated that the biggest misconception of technology was in the concept of technological knowledge, which especially was supposed to be distinguished from scientific knowledge; technology was perceived to have a distinctive kind of knowledge and to be practical, but still to be a part of science pursuing the knowledge of nature. Technology still seemed to be a mere part of science with more emphasis on practical purpose in everyday life, which was concurred with the term applied science. The respondents agreed on the idea of value-ladeness of technology and, thus, necessity for human control over technology. However, they appeared to have relatively passive attitudes toward technology. The conflict between the necessity for control and the paucity of faith in the ability to control technology by themselves must attribute respondents’ dependency toward experts. The correlation between understanding of technology and will to control technology was statistically significant but weak. The control variables of academic affiliation and department were found to have significant effects on the results.