Technology assessment (TA) refers to deliberate initiatives that seek to understand the intended and unintended, direct and indirect, and short-term and long-term consequences of technology. Such initiatives often vary in their perspective, audience, and analytic frameworks. For example, some TA activities are undertaken to inform regulatory decision-making, whereas others are more concerned with the role of technology in society.
From 1972 until 1995, the United States Congress maintained an Office of Technology Assessment (OTA), which served to provide legislators with rigorous analyses of scientific and technology developments. Present-day TA activities are often undertaken by European organizations, including the Center for Technology Assessment of the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences (TA-SWISS), the Institute of Technology Assessment (ITA) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, the Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS) at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in Germany, and the United Kingdom’s Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST).