Accepted Paper:

Modelling the Future  


Simone Abram (Durham University)

Paper short abstract:

How far do today's imaginative horizons define futures that will emerge? This paper discusses how a cadre of engineers and mathematicians are attempting to generate a holistic model of contemporary and future energy systems, through imaginings of current and hypothetical infrastructures.

Paper long abstract:

The current moment is often described as a global energy crisis, as conflicting needs and desires, resources and degradations emerge. Among the professions concerned with seeking a resolution for the crisis are a cadre of engineers and mathematicians who seek to tame multidimensional uncertainties over time. By 'building' elaborate and integrated models of energy systems, they hope to provide a framework to help others to take decisions about the future. But 'building a model' and integrating diverse models is an extreme shorthand for many and diverse ways of imagining, calculating, reasoning, and defining certainties and uncertainties. What do they mean when they talk about 'models', how do they imagine, and what kinds of future do they describe? And what kinds of decisions do they anticipate being necessary? The paper builds on early fieldwork with the UK National Centre for Energy Systems Integration.

Panel P040
Anthropology and emerging technologies [FAN panel]