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Accepted Paper:

Writing predictions to perform different futures: reflections from a book collective  
Stefan Laser (Ruhr-University Bochum)

Short abstract:

This contribution explores the critical and liberatory potential of predictions. It discusses diverse forms of performing predictions based on an STS book project. "Just write predictions" is a daunting yet surprisingly fun and liberating task that helped us form an engaged community of authors.

Long abstract:

This contribution discusses predictions and explores the practical potential of engaging with predictions for STS researchers. It is based on a book project in preparation at Mattering Press, edited by Mél Hogan, Edward Ongweso Jr and Stefan Laser. Predictions are claims about the future that are meant to come true. Even when predictions don’t come true, which is more often than not, they allow for action in the time in between. They do work. With this volume (and a small series we are initiating), we draw on the rich critique that STS researchers, sociologists, anthropologists and media scholars have formulated of the modern fetishism of prediction which includes the violence of policing. Current developments around generative AI and technological hypes of a similar colour strengthen these critiques. Still, we do not want to leave the performative and poetic power of predictions to the lead actors of digital capitalism and their rigid ideals. We have invited STS scholars and allied thinkers to just start predicting. It turned out to be a daunting yet surprisingly fun and liberating task that helped us form an engaged community of authors. Predictions reflect our worries and aspirations back to us. In this panel, we reflect on the experience, egange with critique, and show different modes of prediction, from scientific and quantitative ones to alternative frames. Thinkers engage in plenty of speculative endeavours, reinterpret ongoing research, and present pointed arguments that work beyond academia. Remembering, inventing, surprising do political work, just as does forgetting.

Traditional Open Panel P056
Futures work
  Session 1 Wednesday 17 July, 2024, -