Automation technology, including digital computer and communication techniques, is being applied in an ever-increasing range of private and public spheres, and reaching third world cultures not previously exposed to such technology. It is engineers' responsibility to consider the direct and indirect effects of this technology. To be able to fulfill this responsibility and make proper design decisions, engineers must both understand ¿appropriateness¿ within a given boundary, and have decision authority, together with other parties participating in the design. Whereas sound methodologies for user-centered design are appearing, anticipating and considering the cultural effects of automation are concerns that go far beyond traditional engineering. Nevertheless, engineers should be more deeply involved in comprehensive technology assessment. Encouraging experiences show how innovative design approaches and consideration of comprehensive sets of requirements can lead to better overall system performance. However, much research on open questions remains to be done.