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Accepted Paper:

The futures circle – a framework to critically assess technofutures  
Wenzel Mehnert (Technische Universität Berlin)

Short abstract:

This paper offers an insight into the different research perspectives on Technofutures. It's a contribution to the methodological reflection to study Technofutures and offers a structured guidance through an otherwise often rather erratic research field.

Long abstract:

Emerging technologies come with the promise of disrupting the world as we know it, while at the same time lacking proof of their actual impact. Except for a few prototypes in R&D departments or research institutes, these technologies exist primarily in shared expectations and the way we talk about their potential applications. These expectations are called Technofutures. Technofutures communicate the technology towards a diverse group of stakeholders, attribute meaning to the technology, and create expectations long before it can be said that these expectations will actually hold.

While Technofutures deal with potential future scenarios, they are created at a time when there is limited or no existing knowledge regarding the likely trajectory of the respective technology. That being said, Technofutures often follow a purely hypothetical and thus also speculative manner, while at the same time shaping the way we think and discuss emerging technologies.

Facing the situation that Technofutures, despite their fictional character, have an actual impact on the development of the technology, scholars from Science and Technology Studies (STS) and TA have turned towards Technofutures as objects of interest. The shared characteristic of these approaches is that they view Technofutures not as predictions but as reflections of the current state of affairs.

This paper offers an insight into the different perspectives on Technofutures and presents a framework for a structured assessment. Building upon hermeneutic TA and Ricoeur's narrative hermeneutics, the framework will take into consideration different forms of figurations that become relevant when understanding the social construction of Technofutures.

Traditional Open Panel P056
Futures work
  Session 3 Wednesday 17 July, 2024, -