Technology-based and Technology-generated decisions
The 2022 International Committee for the History of Technology’s 49th Symposium will take place virtually. It will occur in 3 phases, each lasting two days. The 1st meeting will be in June (17, 18), the 2nd in September (24, 25), and the 3rd in October (15, 16). The Kranzberg Lecture will take place in June.
The general theme is “Technology-based and Technology-generated decisions”. Whereas technology-based decisions have a long history, technology-generated decisions of so-called artificial intelligence, AI, are on the horizon since the turn of the 21st century and might gain decisive influence within the next years. Which decisions we are willing to handle over to technology? How to define ethical guidelines for this development? The symposium aims to contribute to this discussion, based on a transnational perspective of the history of technology.
The deadline for proposal is Sunday, 30 January 2022
For a long time, societies have considered technology a value-neutral instrument for various purposes, including decision-making by organizations. Between the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, technology progressively increased its pivotal role in societies: governments, companies, or individual people considered technology essential for living and surviving. But due to increasing over-saturation with technology, negative outcomes became visible and thus, subject of public discussion.
Technology is involved in decision-making in two ways: decisions based on technology and technology-generated decisions. Human societies are used to base their decisions thanks to technologies permitting them, for instance, data collection. Cartography was helpful in decisions such as financing exploratory expeditions traveling, trade, or military operations since the early modern era. In the contemporary World, high-resolution satellite images are the base for the decision-making process in military operations or identifying places where it could be possible to extract mineral and oil resources. Moreover, new technologies often inspire new ways to perform old tasks (e.g., imaging technologies in medical diagnosis) and inspire taking on new tasks (think military rockets being applied to spaceflight). Second, the design and manufacture of technology require decisions that affect how it works, how it is used, how it is manufactured, etc. Certain decisions regarding material properties, usage scenarios (e.g., usability), and areas of application require different types of production. Conversely, the type of production chosen (technology, process, etc.) influences the possible uses of the technology and its artifacts.
Suggestions for more specific questions, derived from the main question: