We amplify the hazardous character of the concept by investing it with agency — by using the word technology as the subject of active verbs. Take, for example, a stock historical generalization such as: “the cotton-picking machine transformed the southern agricultural economy and set off the Great Migration of black farm workers to northern cities.” Here we tacitly invest a machine with the power to initiate change, as if it were capable of altering the course of events, of history itself. By treating these inanimate objects — machines — as causal agents, we divert attention from the human (especially socioeconomic and political) relations responsible for precipitating this social upheaval. Contemporary discourse, private and public, is filled with hackneyed vignettes of technologically activated social change — pithy accounts of “the direction technology is taking us” or “changing our lives.”. . . To attribute specific events or social developments to the historical agency of so basic an aspect of human behavior makes little or no sense. Technology, as such, makes nothing happen. By now, however, the concept has been endowed with a thing-like autonomy and a seemingly magical power of historical agency. We have made it an all-purpose agent of change. As compared with other means of reaching our social goals, the technological has come to seem the most feasible, practical, and economically viable. It relieves the citizenry of onerous decision-making obligations and intensifies their gathering sense of political impotence. The popular belief in technology as a — if not the — primary force shaping the future is matched by our increasing reliance on instrumental standards of judgment, and a corresponding neglect of moral and political standards, in making judgments about the direction of society. To expose the hazards embodied in this pivotal concept is a vital responsibility of historians of technology.