We do not know what the world will look like in 20 or even 100 years. But we can observe technological developments, social conditions, and political trends and depict possible futures. This shows that future technological consequences are created in the here and now. In the interest of desired developments, we must intervene and shape already today. However, there are considerable uncertainties and doubts about the “right” paths to take, especially since hasty decisions may lead to paths that are difficult to leave again. Thinking long-term and at the same time being flexible and able to learn in the short term is extremely ambitious. Furthermore, these deliberations, whether on the design of energy policy or the progress of digitalization, must be democratic. The difference in the level of knowledge between experts and citizens alone makes this a major challenge.
At ITAS, we address this challenge with a combination of new approaches to the long-term governance of long-term processes and their participatory design. We see long-term processes such as the phasing out of nuclear energy, the final disposal of high-level radioactive waste, the introduction of the bioeconomy, or the energy transition as socio-technical challenges. Fundamental considerations on how to deal with risk and non-knowledge also have their place at ITAS.