Institute for Technology Assessment and  Systems Analysis (ITAS)

Visions and ethics

How do expectations of the future and ethical considerations shape science, technology, and politics?
Icon Visions and ethics

Visions shape communication about science and technology in the media, but also play a quite significant role in the discourses of science and politics. Far-reaching promises are made, whether it is about curing major diseases, solving environmental problems, or achieving the global sustainability goals (Sustainable Development Goals). But horror scenarios such as the downfall of mankind in a climate catastrophe or through the takeover by algorithms are also hotly debated by society. These narratives about possible desired or feared futures and their ethical dimensions have an impact on our thinking, on political decisions, and on the course of science, which we must become aware of.

At ITAS, we explore the role of technology visions, analyze their preconditions and background, and subject them to ethical reflection. Examples are 3D printing, the importance of simulations and models, the possibility of a global and intercultural agreement on technical and socio-technical visions and the ethical questions they raise.

Vision Assessment

What relevance do technology visions have for science, technological development, and social transformation? Using the method of vision assessment developed at the Institute, researchers investigate this question and explore the effectiveness of socio-technical visions. Following studies on topics such as in-vitro meat and microalgae, the current focus is on visions of digitalization (e.g., future working environments, openness, 3D printing). In the project on futures of 3D printing, visions are developed in collaboration with researchers and the broader public.

Global ethics in science, technology, and innovation

The growing importance of global society should not detract from its diversity. Global ethics therefore calls for the recognition of different public perceptions and social norms in the global debate on science, technology, and innovation. To this end, researchers use a methodological approach developed at ITAS (GEST) to investigate how value systems in society influence ethical debates in the public and academic domains. The results serve as the basis for policy advice.

Projects on the topic


Ethics of technology: Prof. Dr. Dr. Rafaela Hillerbrand

Global ethics in science, technology, and innovation: Dr. Miltos Ladikas

Vision Assessment: PD Dr. Andreas Lösch

Further contact

Jonas Moosmüller
Public relations
Tel.: +49 721 608-26796