Technology assessment (TA, German Technikfolgenabschätzung) is the study and evaluation of new technologies. It is based on the conviction that new developments within, and discoveries by, the scientific community are relevant for the world at large rather than just for the scientific experts themselves, and that technological progress can never be free of ethical implications. Also, technology assessment recognizes the fact that scientists normally are not trained ethicists themselves and accordingly ought to be very careful when passing ethical judgement on their own, or their colleagues´, new findings, projects, or work in progress.
Technology assessment assumes a global perspective and is future-oriented rather than backward-looking or anti-technological. ("Scientific research and science-based technological innovation is an indispensable prerequisite of modern life and civilization. There is no alternative. For six or eight billion people there is no way back to a less sophisticated life style" [Mohr, Hans: "Technology Assessment in Theory and Practice", Techné: Journal of the Society for Philosophy and Technology, Vol. 4, No. 4 (Summer, 1999)]). TA considers its task as interdisciplinary approach to solving already existing problems and preventing potential damage caused by the uncritical application and the commercialization of new technologies. Therefore any results of technology assessment studies must be published, and particular consideration must be given to communication with political decision-makers.
Some of the major fields of TA – not an exhaustive list: