We are currently experiencing seemingly fundamental changes: the global COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated digital transformation processes in many countries and areas of life. Within these changing contexts, technology assessment (TA) continues to play an important role for shaping societal expectations, ethical concerns and sustainability aspects of existing and emerging technologies. Yet, such changes also have the potential to challenge established TA processes, decision-making and required responses. In its transdisciplinary research tradition, TA ideally enriches scientific knowledge with the perspective of stakeholders and provides orientation knowledge for the society on newly emerging technologies. Specifically, TA focuses on the social relevance and transformation potential of new digital technologies in different fields ranging from energy to education, health care, work, mobility and artificial intelligence.
The 5th European TA Conference discusses contributions on digital transformations and their challenges for policy, society, economy, environment and research.
Existing and potential impacts of digital technologies within societies and socio-technical systems (such as power grids, medical treatments, mobility, logistics and production) as well as on individuals, are the central focus of the conference. Overall, there is a broad range of digital technologies relevant for TA. Some are used “purely” digitally, such as artificial intelligence. Others include digital tools to enhance their effectiveness, e.g., robotics, 3-D-printing or sensor technologies. We are interested to cover the impact these technologies have in certain fields, ranging from energy systems, to production and mobility or the agricultural sector as well as in which functions, they are for example used as learning-systems or for prevention. For example, how can algorithms be developed without endangering justice? TA has to search for ways to co-shape these digital technologies according to societal values such as fairness or trust. This entails governance structures that can also account for the inclusion of citizens and stakeholders regarding the implications of digital transformations. The conference includes interdisciplinary contributions from the TA community in both theoretical contributions on digital transformations as well as case studies from applied fields and reflections on societal challenges of digital technologies focusing on institutional, policy, organizational and/or technological levels.
CONFERENCE CONTENTS *Call for Abstracts closed*
Cluster  EXPLORING DIGITAL FUTURES (system knowledge)
- Emerging technologies (e.g., AI) and societal values
- Digitalisation technologies / data science and democracy / digital citizenship and future of democracy
- Negotiating the digital space: privacy, security, sustainability, inclusion and justice
Cluster  SHAPING SUSTAINABLE FUTURES (normative knowledge)
- Role of digitalization on energy, mobility, food production, health or other sectors
- Co-shaping digital technologies according to societal values such as fairness and trust
Cluster  REFLECTING ON TA FUTURES (practices)
- Digitalization and TA networks, platforms and formats
- Digitalization and methods for technology assessment: new approaches
- TA in practice (practitioners’ experiences, TA policy advice, training, capacity building)