Analyses of technological developments have already helped prepare possible scenarios for the future. In this way, they have had an influence on our present. TA is looking more and more at how our visions can help design our future.
Futurology – actually a self-contradiction
In general, we cannot predict the future. How is it possible to plan the result of a mixture of the different interests of policymakers, society, science and technology development? It is precisely this challenge that makes technology forecasting so interesting that it has become a major technology policy tool worldwide. The purpose of foresight studies is to use methods and controls to assess development trends in science and technology – particularly where they promise to generate significant commercial and social benefits. One example would be the possible future energy technologies. These projects are also important in communicating the different interests of society and achieving a balance between them.
Experts and the public have their say
Today, a variety of methods are used as the basis for projects. In expert-focused foresight studies, the experience and knowledge of experts are expected to eliminate uncertainties and to rationalise the future. In a new generation of foresight studies known as participatory foresight, the process by which we come to a result is as important as the result itself. Communication, the consultative elements and the feedback to those responsible for technology policies improve networks and improve the way the projects are implemented. There are plenty of other methods such as adaptive foresight, regulatory foresight or sustainability foresight.
All these foresight activities have one thing in common – they rely on the views of experts. There are many ways in which we can get useful information about long-term trends in technology and the opportunities they create. The commonest are broad-based Delphi expert polls and analyses by groups of experts, as well as scenario analyses, trend analyses and relevance tree-analyses.
The ITA uses expert-focussed and participatory foresight methods. Its interdisciplinary research makes an important contribution to the further development of methods at national and international level. One of our most recent achievements is the CIVISTI method, an EU cooperation for evaluating topics concerning the future of importance to EU citizens.
Selected projects related to Technology Foresight
Bionics Potentials in Austria
Nature is the inspiration for this branch of research
Citizen and Multi-Actor Consultation on Horizon2020
Citizen Visions on Science, Technology and Innovation
CIVISTI - Ambient Assisted Living
Autonomous Living - Citizen's visions for a more independent ageing are turned into recommendations for the Viennese city government
Technology Delphi Austria
Citizens from all over Austria come together to asses future energy technologies
Pilot Project for the Austrian Parliament
Innovation for Inclusion
Assistive technologies for the inclusion of people with disabilities in society, education and employment
Parliament meets TA
The role of technology assessment in handling social challenges - a study for the Austrian Parliament
Pol[ITA] - Policy Advise in TA
Practices and paradigms of policy advice in TA
RIO+20 with CIVISTI
With the help from ITA experts, students develop their visions for the future