Fictional scenarios, visual knowledge and new technologies have changed epidemiology and preventive medicine.All three dimensions show that a new intelligence and a new form of governmentality about biorisk and future threats.
The outbreaks of Ebola or Avian Flu have showed that classical knowledge about and technologies of epidemiology and preventive medicine have undergone deep transformations. The typical statistics and risk analysis have become replaced by different practices and discourses characterized by three dimensions: a) First, fictional scenarios appear as the keystone in order to elaborate protocols of intervention, and make evaluations about risk. In this sense, risk analysis is rather a product of these scenarios than their source. b) Second, all the actors involved in a biological phenomenon/threat produce a knowledge by the help of a massive and production of images. In fact, it is these images that appear for common people as the real phenomena/threats. c) Third, new technologies such as smartphone apps or computer software like HealthMap have appeared in order to register in real time the cases of contagion and to track in a visual way movements of an outbreak. Interrelated, new practices of biosurveillance, for instance, syndromic surveillance, have become fashionable in the biomedical world. Such new forms of surveillance do not seek to register symptoms of a disease or to track the movement of sick population or individuals; instead, they collect information about signals that are assembled in big syndromes and not in real diseases.
All three dimensions show that a new intelligence and a new form of governmentality about biorisk and future threats is emerging, opening an important number of matters and issues that need discussion especially from STS scholars.