Author:Leo Matteo Bachinger (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute)
Paper short abstract:
Gerontechnologies are increasingly considered as potential solutions to the looming “care crisis”. Promotional videos, portraying a future of technologies stepping in and improving care, serve as case to exemplify how crisis and techno-fix get co-articulated in the making of “the future of aging”.
Paper long abstract:
In this talk I pay attention to the role of "crisis" in the making of futures. On the case of promotional videos portraying the "future of aging", I critically examine the co-articulation of crisis and techno-fix and, in that, bright futures and problematic presents.
Emergent technologies for (geriatric) care ("ICT for aging well", "Ambient Assisted Living") are increasingly considered as potential solutions to a looming "(elder-)care crisis". As "solutions" to the "crisis" of (elder-)care, both are only emergent in a near(ing) future. Themselves products of the future in this twofold sense, the new devices offer "bright" alternatives to problematic and contested outlooks.
In this context I ask for the role of crises in making techno-futures: Subscribing technologies (and research programs evolving around them) to crises-futures as "solutions" creates research opportunities, facilitates investment, secures resources and forges alliances and support.
Simultaneously the crisis is itself retrofitted towards the techno-fix, articulating interpretation of futures and pasts that bring challenges and problems into accordance with the technological solution.
The promise of technology-as-fix, I argue, is less an articulation of "bright" futures that are yet to come, than it is a problematization of the present - portraying care as e.g. "unfit", "insecure", "uncertain", or "insufficient" to the challenges "the future" holds (and thus making its "fixing" necessary). Such crisis-framings can arguably assist coordinated action and stimulate focused intervention. Yet, the ways crisis (and with it hazards, vulnerabilities, risks, …) get stabilized and localized have critical political implications for the socio-technical worlds we build.
Futures in the making and re-making