Visions and ethics

How do expectations of the future and ethical considerations shape science, technology, and politics?
ITAS topic 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


To the complete project list


Further contact

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

Publications on the topic

Coenen, C.
Transcending Natural Limitations: The Military–Industrial Complex and the Transhumanist Temptation
2021. Transhumanism: The Proper Guide to a Posthuman Condition or a Dangerous Idea?. Ed.: W. Hofkirchner, 97–110, Springer International Publishing. doi:10.1007/978-3-030-56546-6_6
Dobroć, P.; Gazos, A.
Additive visioneering. How visions shape 3D printing technologies
2021. Zeitschrift für Technikfolgenabschätzung in Theorie und Praxis, 30 (2), 77–78. doi:10.14512/tatup.30.2.77Full textFull text of the publication as PDF document
Lösch, A.; Hausstein, A.
Transformationen und konkurrierende Zukünfte. Vision Assessment zwischen Analyse und Intervention
2021. Gesellschaftliche Transformationen : Gegenstand oder Aufgabe der Technikfolgenabschätzung? Hrsg.: R. Lindner; M. Decker, 133–144, Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft. doi:10.5771/9783748901556-133
Lösch, A.; Roßmann, M.; Schneider, C.
Vision Assessment als sozio-epistemische Praxis
2021. Technikfolgenabschätzung. Hrsg.: S. Böschen, 337–351, Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft. doi:10.5771/9783748901990-337
Dobroć, P.
Materialities and temporalities in STS
2020. Zeitschrift für Technikfolgenabschätzung in Theorie und Praxis, 29 (3), 83–84. doi:10.14512/tatup.29.3.83Full textFull text of the publication as PDF document
Lösch, A.
Wie nimmt das ITAS Zukunft in den Blick? Vision Assessment in der Technikfolgenabschätzung und die historische Erforschung vergangener Zukünfte
2020. 2000 Revisited - Visionen der Welt von morgen im Gestern und Heute. Hrsg.: P. Dobroć; A. Rothenhäusler, 58–75, KIT Scientific Publishing Full textFull text of the publication as PDF document
Rothenhäusler, A.; Dobroć, P.
Vergangenen und gegenwärtigen Zukünften auf der Spur. Eine Einleitung
2020. 2000 Revisited - Visionen der Welt von morgen im Gestern und Heute. Hrsg.: P. Dobroć, 3–39, KIT Scientific Publishing Full textFull text of the publication as PDF document
Şahinol, M.; Coenen, C.; Motika, R.
2020. Upgrades der Natur, künftige Körper. Hrsg.: M. Şahinol, V-XVII, Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden