This panel aims to explore the complex interrelations of technology, ethics, politics, conflict, uncertainty, unintended consequences and visions of the future.
The future cannot be predicted in detail and is radically uncertain. Consequently visions of the future represent ontologically based understandings of what it could be, ought to be and ought not to be. Technology is often important in imagining these futures and can be framed as empowering, alienating, transformative or destructive. Persuasive technological visions of the future draw upon 'underlying' moralities and ethics which express conflicting social and political 'realities'. Visions of the future proposed by one group can appear unwanted, or destructive, to another. Technologies and other future-making projects can also have unintended consequences which compound moral and visionary complexities. We aim to explore contrasting views of technology, its ontologies and moralities, by understanding morality as fundamentally driven by disagreement, uncertainty and difference. We are interested in how moralities are strategically employed to reinforce particular technologically-driven visions of the future. Relevant questions include: a) How does technological intervention in the name of higher moral goals such as 'saving the planet' from the ecological crisis, or enhancing equality for those suffering discrimination or disempowerment, actually function in its political complexity and deal with unintended consequences? b) How does technologically mediated communication affect moral and political discourse, activism and our ability to handle futures? c) Does technology, or technological research implicitly carry a gendered ethics? d) What kind of ontologies and ethics are implied by, or implemented by, particular technologies? The panel welcomes multidisciplinary, as well as anthropological, studies.