Given the importance of a hermeneutic extension of Technology Assessment (TA), we should ask which kind of knowledge can be created from such perspective and whether and how such knowledge can be relevant for policymaking. Hermeneutic TA aims at understanding the “meaning attributed to emerging technologies in societal discourses”. In this article, I will suggest that from the perspective of hermeneutic TA it becomes clear that TA has directed much attention to the “vanguard visions” of some rather elitist visionaries, whose narratives of technological futures have attracted a lot of media attention and stirred up societal debates. Nanotechnology is the most pertinent example. Meaning has been attributed to such comprehensive, techno-scientific futures, elevating them to form the backdrop of public discourses, technology assessments and policy-making. Such attribution carries a prescriptive power and pushes to political action or further social scientific inquiry. Acknowledging this should raise the awareness that many people’s visions of the future are not part of the policy debates in which TA is involved and in which the future is negotiated. This imbalance might be expressed by saying that they do “not have a future”. In the present article, I will explore this notion and its normative implications.
- Conceptual analysis
- Diversifying futures
- Future making
- Hermeneutic Technology Assessment
- Power imbalance