Technological Futures, Past and Present (2012 – 2013)
Technological futures, past and present. Modern technology heralds improved human well-being, but at the same time carries a foreboding of as-yet unknown dangers. Many current debates around the implications of technological innovation concern attempts to assess the potential risks of new technologies – whether in discussions of the potential dangers of synthetic genomics or in debates over the ethics of cognitive enhancement. Under this rubric, we will examine – historically and comparatively – how polities have envisioned and intervened in their futures: what are different ways of imagining the technological future? How are debates about risk settled when there are insufficient grounds for making definitive calculations about the likelihood of an adverse event? How do experts and lay people differ in their evaluations of risk?