Fraunhofer Institute for
Systems and Innovation Research ISI
progress – for instance in transport, medicine, energy or information technologies
– is usually associated with ambivalent consequences for the economy and
society. The miniaturization of sensors, for example, and their interconnection
via computer networks permits many new applications and business models, but
could also represent an undesirable surveillance infrastructure – with numerous
implications for data protection and privacy.
Given this backdrop,
there is a growing need for orientation based on knowledge about the
opportunities and risks, intended and unintended impacts, as well as societal
needs and the acceptability of future technological developments.
Technology Assessment (TA) helps to identify
problems in good time and answer questions related to technology and
mechanization. In order to support socially desirable socio-technical
developments, orientation knowledge is generated for processes of public
opinion formation and for political decision processes. This knowledge is
created by analyzing technology impacts and societal needs and the
compatibility of these needs and technical solutions as early as possible using
a multi-perspective and interdisciplinary approach.
It is characteristic
for the Technology Assessment practiced at Fraunhofer ISI that a holistic,
systemic perspective is taken that includes all the sub-sectors of society
The Institute advocates a broad understanding of Technology Assessment and uses a correspondingly extensive array of methods in its TA studies that range from economic impact assessments, potential analyses and agent-based modeling through quantitative and qualitative social scientific technology analyses up to scenario development, roadmapping and foresight.
The participatory involvement of target groups,
citizens and laypersons is being assigned growing methodological importance in
our TA studies to supplement our expertise in science and technology and expand
the basis for assessment.
Fraunhofer ISI is an
active part of the German-speaking and international TA scene and participates
in the relevant scientific TA conferences and networks.
The Institute is an active institutional member in the NetzwerkTA (NTA) and also supports the Fachportal OpenTA in this context. Fraunhofer ISI is also an active member of the European Technology Assessment Group (ETAG), which conducts research projects for the European Parliament (Science and Technology Options Assessment − STOA).
Fraunhofer ISI regularly compiles expert reports for the Büro für Technikfolgen-Abschätzung beim Deutschen Bundestag (Office of Technology Assessment at the German Bundestag) (TAB). Furthermore, the Institute was TAB’s institutional cooperating partner between 2003 and 2013.
Staff members represent the Institute in numerous
TA-relevant journals in editorial boards and scientific advisory boards,
Corresponding to our
broad understanding of TA, all the Competence Centers at Fraunhofer ISI are
involved in TA in a wide range of projects, each of which examines different
issues. Some of the Institute’s most important work and research priorities in
TA include classical TA studies in selected fields of technology, parliamentary
TA, the further development of TA methods, ELSA research, Responsible Research
and Innovation (RRI), innovation and technology analyses (ITA) and foresight. All
these key issues aim to provide relevant knowledge for the design and
governance of emerging technologies.
Report of the Roundtable at S.NET Boston 2013: ‚Where to Next for Responsible Innovation’?
Warnke, P.; Schirrmeister, E. (2016): Small
seeds for grand challenges – Exploring disregarded seeds of change in a foresight
process for RTI policy. In: Futures 77, S. 1–10.
Cuhls, K. E. (2016): Mental Time Travel in Foresight Processes—Cases and Applications. In: Futures 86, S.118-135.
© 2018 Fraunhofer ISI