Advertisement

Technology Assessment of Socio-Technical Futures—A Discussion Paper

  • Andreas LöschEmail author
  • Knud Böhle
  • Christopher Coenen
  • Paulina Dobroc
  • Reinhard Heil
  • Armin Grunwald
  • Dirk Scheer
  • Christoph Schneider
  • Arianna Ferrari
  • Dirk Hommrich
  • Martin Sand
  • Stefan C. Aykut
  • Sascha Dickel
  • Daniela Fuchs
  • Karen Kastenhofer
  • Helge Torgersen
  • Bruno Gransche
  • Alexandra Hausstein
  • Kornelia Konrad
  • Alfred Nordmann
  • Petra Schaper-Rinkel
  • Ingo Schulz-Schaeffer
  • Alexander Wentland
Chapter
Part of the Technikzukünfte, Wissenschaft und Gesellschaft / Futures of Technology, Science and Society book series (TEWG)

Summary

Problem: Visions of technology, future scenarios, guiding visions (Leitbilder) represent imaginations of future states of affairs that play a functional role in processes of technological research, development and innovation—e.g. as a means to create attention, communication, coordination, or for the strategic exertion of influence. Since a couple of years there is a growing attention for such imaginations of futures in politics, the economy, research and the civil society. This trend concerns technology assessment (TA) as an observer of these processes and a consultant on the implications of technology and innovation. TA faces increasing demands to assess imaginations of futures that circulate in the present and to participate in shaping these through scenarios or foresights. More than ever, this raises the question, which propositions can be made based on these imaginations by TA and how this can be used in advisory practices. Imaginations of futures are relevant for TA not as predictions but in their significance and effectiveness in the present, which need to be understood and assessed.

Contents: This discussion paper outlines how present significance and effects of imagined futures in technological research and innovation processes can be conceived and analyzed. In this paper, all forms of imaginations of technology futures will be called “socio-technical futures” because within them technological developments and social changes are interwoven and inseparably interrelated. In this paper, we discuss (1) why TA should analyze socio-technical futures, (2) how such analyses can grasp the societal conditions (e.g. power structures) that are expressed in the imagined futures and how these become effective in processes of technology development, communication, decision making etc. We raise the question (3) which self-reflexive positioning or possible realignment of TA is needed as a response to its increased concern with assessing and even co-producing socio-technical futures. The latter is often demanded regarding the growing attention by politics and publics to imaginations of futures with wide temporal and spatial reach.

Addressee of this paper is the TA community in a broader sense. The aim is to sensitize colleagues for the topic and its challenges, to consolidate discussions and to provide theoretical and methodical suggestions for research in TA and related advisory practices with respect to socio-technical futures. This paper has been originally initiated during the workshop “The present of technological futures-theoretical and methodical challenges for Technology Assessment” (March 2016, Karlsruhe), in which all of the paper’s authors participated. The contents of this discussion paper are preliminary results that shall initiate and guide further discussions.

Recommended Readings

On Sections 1 and 2

  1. Adam, B., & Groves, C. (2007). Future matters: Action, knowledge, ethics. Leiden: Brill.Google Scholar
  2. Banse, G., Grunwald, A., Hronszky, I., & Nelson, G. (Eds.). (2011). On prospective technology studies (KIT Scientific Reports 7599). Karlsruhe: KIT Scientific Publishing.Google Scholar
  3. Böhle, K. (2015). Desorientierung der TA oder Orientierungsgewinn? Einige Anmerkungen zum Vorschlag, die TA hermeneutisch zu erweitern. Technikfolgenabschätzung-Theorie und Praxis, 24(3), 91–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Brown, N., Rappert, B., & Webster, A. (Eds.). (2000). Contested futures: A sociology of prospective techno-science. Farnham: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  5. Gransche, B. (2015). Vorausschauendes Denken. Philosophie und Zukunftsforschung jenseits von Statistik und Kalkül. Bielefeld: Transkript.Google Scholar
  6. Grunwald, A. (2012). Technikzukünfte als Medium von Zukunftsdebatten und Technikgestaltung. Karlsruhe: KIT Scientific Publishing.Google Scholar
  7. Grunwald, A. (2013). Techno-visionary sciences. Challenges to policy advice. Science, Technology & Innovation Studies, 9(2), 21–38.Google Scholar
  8. Grunwald, A. (2015). Die hermeneutische Erweiterung der Technikfolgenabschätzung. Technikfolgenabschätzung-Theorie und Praxis, 24(2), 65–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Jasanoff, S., & Kim, S.-H. (Eds.). (2015). Dreamscapes of modernity. Sociotechnical imaginaries and the fabrication of power. Chicago: University of Chicago.Google Scholar
  10. Nordmann, A. (2007). If and then: A critique of speculative nanoethics. NanoEthics, 1(1), 31–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Nordmann, A. (2010). A forensics of wishing: Technology assessment in the age of technoscience. Poiesis & Praxis, 7(1), 5–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Schaper-Rinkel, P. (2015). Antizipation von Zukunft zwischen Verwissenschaftlichung und Storytelling. In S. Azzouni, S. Böschen, & C. Reinhardt (Eds.), Erzählung und Geltung. Wissenschaft zwischen Autorschaft und Autorität (pp. 363–384). Weilerswist: Velbrück Wissenschaft.Google Scholar
  13. Schulz, M. S. (2015). Special issue: Future moves in culture, society and technology. Poiesis & Praxis, 63(2), 129–139.Google Scholar
  14. Selin, C. (2008). The sociology of the future. Tracing stories of technology and time. Sociology Compass, 2(6), 1878–1895.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Taylor, C. (2004). Modern social imaginaries. Durham: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Torgersen, H. (2013). TA als hermeneutische Unternehmung. Technikfolgenabschätzung-Theorie und Praxis, 22(2), 75–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

On Section 3

  1. Alvial Palavicino, C. (2016). Mindful anticipation. A practice approach to the study of emergent technologies. Enschede: University of Twente.Google Scholar
  2. Appadurai, A. (2013). The future as cultural fact. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  3. Aykut, S. (2015). Energy futures from the social market economy to the Energiewende. The politicization of West German energy debates, 1950–1990. In J. Andersson & E. Rindzevičiūtė (Eds.), Forging the future (pp. 63–91). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  4. Beckert, J. (2013). Imagined futures: Fictional expectations in the economy. Theory and Society, 42(3), 219–240.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Böhle, K., & Bopp, K. (2014). What a vision: The artificial companion. A piece of vision assessment including an expert survey. Science, Technology & Innovation Studies, 10(1), 155–186.Google Scholar
  6. Dickel, S., & Schrape, J.-F. (2015). Dezentralisierung, Demokratisierung, Emanzipation. Zur Architektur des digitalen Technikutopismus. Leviathan, 43(3), 442–463.Google Scholar
  7. Dieckhoff, C., Appelrath, H.-J., Fischedick, M., Grunwald, A., Höffler, F., Mayer, C., et al. (2014). Zur Interpretation von Energieszenarien. Schriftenreihe Energiesysteme der Zukunft. München: acatech-Deutsche Akademie der Technikwissenschaften e. V.Google Scholar
  8. Dierkes, M., Hoffman, U., & Marz, L. (1992). Leitbild und Technik. Zur Entstehung und Steuerung technischer Innovationen. Berlin: Edition Sigma.Google Scholar
  9. Geideck, S., & Liebert, W.-A. (Eds.). (2003). Sinnformeln. Linguistische und soziologische Analysen von Leitbildern, Metaphern und anderen kollektiven Orientierungsmustern. Berlin: De Gruyter.Google Scholar
  10. Grin, J., & Grunwald, A. (Eds.). (2000). Vision assessment: Shaping technology in 21st century society. Towards a repertoire for technology assessment. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  11. Konrad, K., Markard, J., Ruef, A., & Truffer, B. (2012). Strategic responses to fuel cell hype and disappointment. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 79(6), 1084–1098.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Leitner, K.-H., Warnke, P., & Rhomberg, W. (2016). New forms of innovation. Critical issues for future pathways. Foresight, 18(3), 224–237.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Levitas, R. (2013). Utopia as method: The imaginary reconstitution of society. New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Lösch, A. (2013). Vision Assessment zu Human-Enhancement-Technologien. Konzeptionelle Überlegungen zu einer Analytik von Visionen im Kontext gesellschaftlicher Kommunikationsprozesse. Technikfolgenabschätzung-Theorie und Praxis, 22(1), 9–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Lösch, A. (2014). Die diskursive Konstruktion einer Technowissenschaft. Wissenssoziologische Analytik am Beispiel der Nanotechnologie. Baden-Baden: Nomos.Google Scholar
  16. Lösch, A., & Schneider, C. (2016). Transforming power/knowledge apparatuses: The smart grid in the German energy transition. Innovation: The European Journal of Social Science Research, 29(3), 262–284.Google Scholar
  17. Scheer, D. (2013). Computersimulationen in politischen Entscheidungsprozessen: Zur Politikrelevanz von Simulationswissen am Beispiel der CO2-Speicherung. Wiesbaden: Springer VS.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Scheer, D., & Renn, O. (2014). Public perception of geoengineering and its consequences for public debate. Climatic Change, 125(3–4), 305–318.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Schulz-Schaeffer, I. (2013). Scenarios as patterns of orientation in technology development and technology assessment. Outline of a research program. Science, Technology & Innovation Studies, 9(1), 23–44.Google Scholar
  20. Schulz-Schaeffer, I., & Meister, M. (2015). How situational scenarios guide technology development-Some insights from research on ubiquitous computing. In D. M. Bowman, A. Dijkstra, C. Fautz, J. Guivant, K. Konrad, H. van Lente, & S. Woll (Eds.), Practices of innovation and responsibility. Insights from methods, governance and action (pp. 165–179). Heidelberg: AKA/IOS.Google Scholar
  21. te Kulve, H., Konrad, K., Alvial Palavicino, C., & Walhout, B. (2013). Context matters: Promises and concerns regarding nanotechnologies for water and food applications. NanoEthics, 7(1), 17–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Warnke, P., & Schirrmeister, E. (2016). Small seeds for grand challenges—Exploring disregarded seeds of change in a foresight process for RTI policy. Futures, 77, 1–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Wentland, A. (2016). Imagining and enacting the future of the German energy transition: Electric vehicles as grid infrastructure. Innovation: The European Journal of Social Science Research, 29(3), 285–302.Google Scholar

On Section 4

  1. Ahlqvist, T., & Rhisiart, M. (2015). Emerging pathways for critical futures research: Changing contexts and impacts of social theory. Futures, 71, 91–104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Coenen, C., & Simakova, E. (2013). STS policy interactions, technology assessment and the governance of technovisionary sciences. Science, Technology & Innovation Studies, 9(2), 3–20.Google Scholar
  3. Dickel, S. (2013). Die Regulierung der Zukunft. “Emerging Technologies” und das Problem der Exklusion des Spekulativen. In A. Bora, A. Henkel, & C. Reinhardt (Eds.), Wissensregulierung und Regulierungswissen (pp. 201–218). Weilerswist: Velbrück.Google Scholar
  4. Dieckhoff, C. (2015). Modellierte Zukunft-Energieszenarien in der wissenschaftlichen Politikberatung. Bielefeld: Transkript.Google Scholar
  5. Grunwald, A. (2008). Technik und Politikberatung. Philosophische Perspektiven. Frankfurt a. M.: Suhrkamp.Google Scholar
  6. Haraway, D. J. (1997). Modest_Witness@Second_Millennium. FemaleMan_Meets_OncoMouse: Feminism and Technoscience. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  7. Konrad, K., Stegmaier, P., Rip, A., & Kuhlmann, S. (2014). Constructive technology assessment-Antizipation Modulieren als Teil der Governance von Innovation. In M. Löw (Ed.), Vielfalt und Zusammenhalt. Verhandlungen des 36. Kongresses der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Soziologie in Bochum und Dortmund 2012. Frankfurt a. M.: Campus (CD-Rom).Google Scholar
  8. Konrad, K., van Lente, H., Groves, C., & Selin, C. (2016). Performing and governing the future in science and technology. In C. A. Miller, U. Felt, R. Fouché, & L. Smith-Doerr (Eds.), The handbook of science and technology studies (4th ed., pp. 465–493). Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  9. Latour, B. (2004). Why has critique run out of steam? From matters of fact to matters of concern. Critical Inquiry, 30(2), 225–248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. McCray, W. P. (2012). The visioneers: How a group of elite scientists pursued space colonies, nanotechnologies, and a limitless future. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Nordmann, A. (2013). Visioneering assessment: On the construction of tunnel visions for technovisionary research and policy. Science, Technology & Innovation Studies, 9(2), 89–94.Google Scholar
  12. Nordmann, A. (2014). Responsible innovation, the art and craft of anticipation. Journal of Responsible Innovation, 1(1), 87–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Poli, R. (2014). Anticipation: What about turning the human and social sciences upside down? Futures, 64, 15–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Rip, A. (2012). Futures of technology assessment. In M. Decker, A. Grunwald, & M. Knapp (Eds.), Der Systemblick auf Innovation. Technikfolgenabschätzung in der Technikgestaltung (pp. 29–42). Berlin: Sigma.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Schaper-Rinkel, P. (2006). Governance von Zukunftsversprechen: Zur politischen Ökonomie der Nanotechnologie. PROKLA, 145, 473–496.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Schaper-Rinkel, P. (2013). The role of future-oriented technology analysis in the governance of emerging technologies: The example of nanotechnology. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 80(3), 444–452.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Schneider, C., & Lösch, A. (2015). What about your futures, Technology Assessment? An Essay on how to take the visions of TA seriously, motivated by the PACITA conference. Technikfolgenabschätzung-Theorie und Praxis, 24(2), 70–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Schot, J., & Rip, A. (1996). The past and future of constructive technology assessment. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 54, 251–268.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Schot, J., & Steinmüller, W. E. (2016). Framing innovation policy for transformative change: Innovation policy 3.0. Brighton: University of Sussex. http://www.johanschot.com/publications/framing-innovation-policy-for-transformative-change-innovation-policy-3-0/.
  20. Suchman, L., & Bishop, L. (2000). Problematizing ‘Innovation’ as a critical project. Technology Analysis & Strategic Management, 12(3), 327–333.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Weber, K. M., Amanatidou, E., Erdmann, L., & Nieminen, M. (2016). Research and innovation futures. Exploring new ways of doing and organizing knowledge creation. Foresight, 18(3), 193–203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andreas Lösch
    • 1
    Email author
  • Knud Böhle
    • 1
  • Christopher Coenen
    • 1
  • Paulina Dobroc
    • 1
  • Reinhard Heil
    • 1
  • Armin Grunwald
    • 1
  • Dirk Scheer
    • 1
  • Christoph Schneider
    • 5
  • Arianna Ferrari
    • 2
  • Dirk Hommrich
    • 3
  • Martin Sand
    • 4
  • Stefan C. Aykut
    • 6
  • Sascha Dickel
    • 7
  • Daniela Fuchs
    • 8
  • Karen Kastenhofer
    • 8
  • Helge Torgersen
    • 8
  • Bruno Gransche
    • 9
  • Alexandra Hausstein
    • 10
  • Kornelia Konrad
    • 11
  • Alfred Nordmann
    • 12
  • Petra Schaper-Rinkel
    • 13
  • Ingo Schulz-Schaeffer
    • 14
  • Alexander Wentland
    • 15
  1. 1.Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems AnalysisKarlsruhe Institute of TechnologyKarlsruheGermany
  2. 2.Department Strategy and ContentFuturium gGmbHBerlinGermany
  3. 3.Headoffice, German Council for Scientific Information InfrastructuresGöttingenGermany
  4. 4.Department of Values, Technology and InnovationTU DelftBX DelftThe Netherlands
  5. 5.Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems AnalysisKarlsruhe Institute of TechnologyKarlsruheGermany
  6. 6.Department of SocioeconomicsUniversity of HamburgHamburgGermany
  7. 7.Institute for SociologyJohannes Gutenberg UniversityMainzGermany
  8. 8.Institute of Technology AssessmentAustrian Academy of SciencesViennaAustria
  9. 9.Institute of Advanced Studies - FoKoSUniversity of SiegenSiegenGermany
  10. 10.Institute of Technology FuturesKarlsruhe Institute of TechnologyKarlsruheGermany
  11. 11.Department of Science, Technology and Policy StudiesUniversity of TwenteEnschedeThe Netherlands
  12. 12.Institute of PhilosophyTechnical University of DarmstadtDarmstadtGermany
  13. 13.Center Innovation Systems & PolicyAustrian Institute of TechnologyViennaAustria
  14. 14.Department of SociologyTU BerlinBerlinGermany
  15. 15.Munich Center for Technology in SocietyTechnical University of MunichMunichGermany

Personalised recommendations