In our track we want to provide a forum for mutual inspiration for different strands of research in STS and TA that address the different roles of socio-technical futures in shaping the present. As possible contributions we address empirical examples as well as analytical proposals.
One of the key conceptual statements of STS says that any imagination of new technologies is unavoidably coupled with the shaping or even invention of future kinds of users and usage, of altered social relations or even new societal regimes. Such statements are also guiding for technology assessments (TA), e.g. vision assessments, which try to evaluate societal consequences of imagined futures. But neither in STS nor in TA has much attention been given to the detailed analysis of the influence of socio-technical futures on the present (e.g., their influence on orientations and decisions in innovation processes or their influence on societal debates), including the study of such influences on past presents. Also, there are only some attempts to elaborate the constitutive interplay between imagined and factual socio-technical developments conceptually.
In our track we want to provide a forum for mutual inspiration for different strands of research in STS and TA that address the different roles of socio-technical futures in shaping the present.
This comprises questions like
• What types of future concepts are at play?
• How could we differentiate them according to their functions in social processes (e.g., debates, R&D or technology governance)?
• What patterns of guidance through these concepts can be generalized from empirical case studies?
• How can the insights in different effects of socio-technical futures be used for technology assessments and in technology governance?
• And overall, what are ways to conceptualize the shaping of the present by socio-technical futures?