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A Companion to the Philosophy of Technology by Vincent F. Hendricks, Stig Andur Pedersen, Jan Kyrre Berg Olsen Friis

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3. Future Technology

3.1 Technology assessment

Attempts to predict future technologies are at least as old as science fiction. (The beginning of science fiction is a contested issue; perhaps the first novel with an uncontested science fiction status is Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein from 1818.) However, systematic attempts to predict technology in a scientific manner are of rather recent origin. The term “technology assessment” was introduced in 1966 by Philip Yeager, who worked for the American Congressman Emilio Q. Daddario (Ropohl 1996). Daddario proposed the creation of a Congressional agency that would help identify consequences of new technologies in advance, so that negative effects could be avoided or limited, and positive effects amplified and promoted. As a result of his endeavors, the American Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) was established in 1972. Its task was to analyze and predict the consequences of future technological development. In 1995, when OTA was closed down for political reasons, it had published over 700 reports on a wide variety of topics related to science and technology. OTA assessments were based on extensive research, involving scientists from a wide variety of disciplines. Typically, the reports did not offer specific recommendations, but instead presented alternative options and appraisals of their consequences.

Today, the main scene for TA activities is in Europe, perhaps in particular Germany. Several European countries have their own parliamentary ...

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