(Graz University of Technology)
Paper Short Abstract:
Analyzing focus group discussions, we assess digital health care technologies. We use video clips on imaginary health avatars to spark off discussions on sociotechnical futures. Our method invites you to join our critical reflection of the social construction of acceptance.
Paper long abstract:
New technologies stimulate imaginations. Especially in relation to health care, digital innovations raise both hopes as well as fears. Robots and avatars promise solutions for an ever-increasing demand for care in ageing societies with growing rates of dementia and chronical illnesses. Yet, digitalization of medicine is also met with apprehensions. These range from privacy issues and loss of autonomy to concerns regarding inequality and marginalization within society.
Our research team produced video clips showing imaginary applications of digital health avatars. Showing these clips to a diverse variety of focus group participants, we stimulated them to envision more concretely possible scenarios of how future health care technologies might be applied. This allows us to obtain in-depth insight into how such imagined futures can be used to assess sociotechnical futures.
It was an important aspect of our project that we developed the displayed scenarios of future health care technologies collaboratively with medical doctors, IT specialists and health care providers. As trained social scientists, it was our explicit assignment in the project to assess the public acceptance of these socially constructed, sociotechnical health care futures. We include this significant context into our reflection on the potentials and limitations of our empirical methodology as well as the role of STS under the given circumstances.
The public imagination of the future