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Institute of Technology Futures

Board of directors

Prof. Dr. Markus Lehmkuhl (Institute of Science Communication)

Prof. Dr. Marcus Popplow (Institute of History)

Prof. Dr. Christian Seidel (Institute of Philosophy)



Prof. Dr. Christian Seidel


Managing Director

Dr. Alexandra Hausstein

Institute of Technology Futures
Douglasstraße 24, 3rd Floor
Room: 405
D-76133 Karlsruhe

Tel.: +49 721 608-42045
alexandra haussteinWsk5∂kit edu




A Delegation from KIT at the Université euromed in Fez

Gruppenbild vor der UEMF


On 10th and 11th November, 2016, a delegation from KIT discussed further projects for the cooperation between the Karlsruher Institute of Technology, TU Dresden and the University of Koblenz-Landau with the newly founded Université euromed in Fez. 

The Karlsruhe Institute of Technology was represented by Prof. Böhn, dean of the faculty for Social Sciences, Dr. Alexandra Hausstein, managing director of the Institute for Technology Futures, Prof. Caroline Robertson-von Trotha, Director of the Centre for Cultural and General Studies, Susanne Kaliwe, International Office, Susanne Gerstberger, Faculty of Architecture and Nora Steinhäuser, Student Assistant at the Institute for Technology Futures. Prof. Hans Vorländer, Director of the Centre for the Study of Constitutionalism and Democracy, and Professor Marc Arenhövel from TU Dresden, as well as Prof. Oliver Frör, Head of Environmental Economics in Landau were representing their Universities in Morocco. 

The two workshops held at UEMF gave the opportunity of a fruitful discussion between colleagues from Morocco and Germany. Parts of the workshop and the lecture by Prof. Frör concerning Environmental Economics, Prof. Robertson-von Trotha on migration and integration in Germany as well as Prof. Arenhövel on Democracy in Europe were open for students and encouraged a dialogue between German professors and students from UEMF. Further cooperation between KIT and the Université euromed will now continue in specific projects in research and teaching. 

Besichtigung der Labore

Besprechungen an der UEMF

The Institute of Technology Futures engages in the HeKKSaGOn Conference at KIT


On Thursday and Friday, September 29th and 30th 2016, the 5th Japanese-German University Presidents’ Conference (HeKKSaGOn) took place at KIT. One of the eight working groups of HeKKSaGOn is the working group III Social Sciences and Humanities, this time co-organized by the Institute of Technology Futures.

Every one and a half year, the presidents of the Universities of Osaka, Tohoku, Kyoto, Göttingen, Heidelberg and Karlsruhe meet at one of the participating Campuses. By now the conference includes also eight working groups in different domains.

The working group III Social Science and Humanities is already solid and strongly build up under the leadership of Prof. Harald Fuess, Excellence Cluster “Asia and Europe in a Global Context” at University of Heidelberg. The Institute for Technology Futures joined HeKKSaGOn in 2015 to represent the faculty of Social Science and Humanities at KIT.

At this year’s meeting, professors from all the cooperating Universities in Japan and Germany participated and presented their research on the broad topic “Technology, Culture, and Society”. Several KIT-scholars attended the meeting, among them Prof. Dr. Andreas Böhn, Prof. Dr. Annette Lessmöllmann, Prof. Dr. Marcus Popplow, Dominik Schrey and Christoph Böhmert. The first session was chaired by Dr. Alexandra Hausstein (KIT) and focussed specifically on “Technology, Risk, Morality after Fukushima”, with presentations from Prof. Dr. Kiyotaka Naoe from the School of Arts and Letters at Tohoku University, Prof. Dr. Saku Hara from the same faculty and Nele Wulf from the Institute of Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis at KIT. The second session, chaired by Prof. Dr. Annette Lessmöllmann (KIT), had the subject “History and Philosophy of Technology“, with presentations from Dr. Mariko Nihei from the Research Institute of Electrical Communication at Tohoku University, Prof. Dr. Marcus Popplow from the Institute of History at KIT and Prof. Dr. Enrico Fongaro from the Tohoku University. The last session about “Technology, Art and Literature“, consisted of a presentation by Prof. Dr. Akihiro Ozaki from Tohoku University, moderated by Prof. Dr. Takashi Sugiyama from Kyoto University.  

The working group session concluded with plans for the next HeKKSaGOn conference being held in Osaka in April 2018, organized by Prof. Kotaro Yoshida and Yukio Irie, both from Osaka University. Participants agreed on a joint topic for the next conference: “Transcultural Identities”. The Institute of Technology Futures is planning to invest further in this cooperation by establishing an interdisciplinary working group in the field of Human-Machine-Interaction and risk communication.

The conference offered the opportunity for an inspiring meeting and we are looking forward to the 6th Japanese-German University Presidents’ Conference! 


Digitalisation in East and West: Workshop „Social science perspectives on digitalisation (Industry 4.0/Made in China 2025)“


The increasing digitalization of the world of employment is not only discussed controversially in public but also in the domains of economy and science. Within the concept of “Industry 4.0” in Germany and “Made in China 2025” in China are gathered observations, analyses and regulations of various trends in networking, informatization and optimization of the daily life, the workplace and the production processes. The Institute of Technology Futures at KIT and the German Studies Center at Tongji University, Shanghai, share the goal to examine this issue from the perspective of the social sciences and humanities. The institutes organized a workshop on this topic on 23rd and 24th September 2016 at Tongji University.

Among the 30 participating researchers have been six members of the KIT: Dr. Bettina Krings and Dr. Linda Nierling from the Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS), Dr. Monika Hanauska, Dr. Dominik Schrey and Prof. Dr. Andreas Böhn from the Institute of German Studies/Science Communications and Dr. Alexandra Hausstein from the Institute of Technology Futures (ITZ).

The presentations examined social issues on digitalization and computerization and prepared the ground for further joint research agendas. The focus of the first panel has been aligned to Media Studies. It questioned continuity and change of transformation processes and cultural forms of resistance and appropriations, for instance technology nostalgia. The next panel discussed the subject “Industry 4.0” in relation to the securing of economic locations as well as networking as part of the future working process. Additionally, this panel reflected the resolving impact on employment and education. Questions about dissolution of boundaries and politics that regulate working environments have been discussed in the particular cultural contexts.

On the second day, 24th September 2016, the symposium ended with a trip to the “Industry 4.0 – Smart Factory Lab”, at Jiading Campus, Tongji University. This visit gave insight into digital connected devices, their working process and their handling.

A continuation of the workshop is planned for next year in Karlsruhe at KIT.


A symposium concerning German studies took place at Shanghai Jiaotong University on 22th September 2016.




Workshop Report "Designing Technology Futures" in University Magazine lookKIT Issue 3/2016

Textblock-Bild vertikal 225

The current issue of KIT magazine LooKIT lookKIT 3/2016 features a recent workshop at ITZ "Designing Technology Futures" from July 7th, 2016, organized by Institute of Technology Futures. You will finde the report by Dr. Alexandra Hausstein, managing director of ITZ, and Carsten Thomas, student assistant, on page 66 of the PDF-file.

lookKIT // Ausgabe 2016/3


Quelle: lookKIT

Guests at ITZ: Chinese colleagues from Tongji University Shanghai visit the KIT


As part of an exchange programm scientists from Tongji University visited in July 2016 the Institute of Technology Futures at KIT. Among the guests have been Professor Dr. Lu Peng, Tongji Law School, and Jing Guo, M.S. from the German Studies Center and Professor Jin Zhao, Dean of the Faculty of German Studies.

In addition to their own research projects in cooperation with colleagues from KIT, the topic has been also the organization of the workshop "Industrial 4.0 - Social and Cultural Perspectives ". It will taken place at 23rd and 24th September 2016 in Shanghai.

Further information : Tongji University


Designing technology futures

An interdisciplinary workshop introduces the Institute for Technology Futures (Institut für Technikzukünfte - ITZ) at KIT
ITZ Workshop: Armin Grunwald
The future of new technologies is often designed in the mode of science fiction or the great visions. But technological futures are also a powerful phenomenon of the present: autonomous driving, robotics or the energy transition - social debates about such futures are more than mere rhetoric. They also contribute to pave the way for future realities.
To initiate an interdisciplinary debate on those ideas and imaginaries of the future present in current research and development- that was the goal of the workshop organized by the Institute of Technology Futures (ITZ). Task of the newly founded ITZ is to explore and reflect in interdisciplinary research groups perspectives of technological futures. To this end, it brings together humanities and social sciences, economics and law, as well as natural sciences and engineering sciences. On 7 July 2016, the ITZ had invited 35 scientists from all disciplines of KIT to discuss the interdicisplinary co-creation of technology futures focusing on key questions of energy, mobility and information.
Three interdisciplinary dedicated discussions on the topics "Futures of Mobility", "Futures of Energy" and "Futures of Information". In the panel on mobility futures, discussions focused on the normative assumptions of this debate: What symbolic value has the car today and is going to change this? What happens to the mobility patterns of users? Are we willing to give control of our car out of hand? What would be a desirable mobility? Many contributions of the second panel on energy futures recalled the measures provided for in Germany for 2023 phasing out of nuclear energy and the associated challenges: Does the energy transition create new risk strategies? What is the interplay between technology and politics to characterize the energy sector? Is saving energy often regarded as a purely technical problem without taking into account the possibility of changes in behavior or value change? The last panel of the workshop was devoted to the topic futures of information and tried an inventory of circulating images of futures of information technology. 
The workshop concluded with a view on further cooperation. Throughout the day, a number of themes issues had emerged: They included hot topics such as automation or data protection, but also methodological questions such as the assumptions behind modeling of technology futures in daily research; the social dynamics of the circulation, the establishment and the disappearance of technology futures; in particular the mechanisms of its implementation in practice. Participants addressed again the need to "map out" existing technology futures, i.e. their distribution in different media, literature, public discourse, and scientific research programs. A selection of these core issues will now be deepened in interdisciplinary working groups. Armin Grunwald had stated in the introduction: "What is a good future of technology? Not always that one that is realized! "Against this background, it will be the core task of ITZ to reflect the wide range of possible and alternative technology futures from different disciplinary perspectives. The workshop of ITZ was the first step in this direction. 

Program Schedule (German): ITZ-Workshop: Designing technology futures

Moroccan colleagues from Université Méditerranéenne de Fès (Uemf) visiting KIT und University Koblenz-Landau

From July 13 to July 16, 2016, a delegation of the newly founded University Méditerranéenne de Fès (Uemf) visited Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and the University of Koblenz-Landau. Among them, Prof. José Roldan, Vice-President for Innovation of Uemf, Mr. Mohamed Metalsi, Dean of Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Prof. Mohamed Marzak and Prof. Bennouna, both presidential adviser at UEMF. The visit was part of some actions in the context of a cooperation between the UEMF, KIT, TU Dresden and University of Koblenz-Landau that is funded by DAAD "German-Arab Transformation Partnership” Program.
The meeting at KIT and the University of Koblenz-Landau served as exploratory visits and fact finding missions for future cooperation projects both in the areas of teaching and learning, as well as research and development of infrastructure. The colleagues of UEMF were particularly interested in interdisciplinary research at KIT on issues of human-technology-society interaction, research on topics such as innovation, sustainability and technology ethics. A specific co-operation will focus on establishing the General Studies program and a Centre for Innovation at UEMF. Cooperation with the Institute of Environmental Sciences at University of Koblenz Landau and the Institute of Political Science at TU Dresden will complement the cooperation and help to sharpen the focus of cooperation on two key issues: a) geopolitics, culture and history of the Euro-Mediterranean space and b) technology and society: innovation, sustainability and technology ethics. These issues will be at the center of a multilateral workshop, on 10-11 November, 2016, to be held at UEMF in Fes.

Interdisciplinary Workshop of ITZ: „Forming Technology“

On Thursday, 07th of Juli 2016, an interdisciplinary workshop of ITZ, "Forming Technology", will take place from 9 am till 18 pm  at the Präsidiumsgebäude of KIT, Campus Süd.

Participants will show the perspectives of their disciplines on different key questions.  After each panel (Mobility Futures, Energy Futures, Information Futures) follows a discussion to establish common grounds.

The workshop should function as platform, where Humanities, Social Science, Economics, Law, Natural and Technology Science work togehter on technology innovations.

Program Schedule: ITZ-Workshop: Designing technology futures

Discussion Paper: Fallacies in Scenario Reasoning - by Prof. Dr. Gregor Betz

The Discussion Paper "Fallacies in Scenario Reasoning" can be found on the Homepage of ITZ . You can download it free. (PDF-Reader requested)


Gregor Betz:


Fallacies in Scenario Reasoning


Discussion Paper Institute of Technology Futures

Nr. 02 | Mai 2016

KIT, Karlsruhe 

Discussion Paper in the KIT-Library

ISSN 2366-553X








Policy-makers frequently face substantial uncertainties and are required to cope with alternative scenarios that depict possible future developments. This paper argues that scenario reasoning is prone to suffer from characteristic mistakes. Probabilistic fallacies quantify uncertainties in an illegitimate way. Possibilistic fallacies systematically underestimate the full range of uncertainty, neglect relevant possibilities or attempt to represent a space of possibilities in an oversimplified way. Decision-theoretic fallacies, finally, fail to take the full range of uncertainties into account when justifying decisions, or misinterpret possibility statements by assigning them a special decision-theoretic meaning. Keywords. scenario; possibility; great uncertainty; decision-making; fallacy.


Appointing Prof. Dr. Marcus Popplow as the first full core professor at Institute of Technology Futures

On April 1, 2016, Prof. Dr. Marcus Popplow took up his position at Institute of History and Institute of Technology Futures at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. His professorship in the field of "History of scientific-technological civilization" at the Institute of History of the KIT is one of the future four core chairs of ITZ. Popplow has held appointments as visiting professor in Stuttgart, Salzburg and Augsburg and joins us coming from Berlin where he was director of the field “History of Technology” at TU Berlin. His work at ITZ will deepen the historical dimension of interdisciplinary research on technology futures. Since his dissertation ( "Neu, nützlich und erfindungsreich" 1998), his main area of interest is the exploration of historical discourses on technology.


Popplow on his new position at KIT:

"History of technology as an academic discipline often refers to current debates. Their research shows long-term continuities of dealing with and of thinking about technology. The Institute of Technology Futures provides a unique setting for combining from the outset priori historical reflections and the reflection of technology futures. The point that this is basically done in dialogue with other social sciences and humanities as well as with economics and engineering sciences makes this approach all the more exciting. "


► More about Prof. Dr. Marcus Popplow


Multilateral Partnership in the Euro-mediterranean region Karlsruhe Institute of Technology -Université Euro-Méditerranéenne de Fès -University Koblenz Landau–TU Dresden

Partnership KIT- UEMF - University Koblenz-Landau, from left: Prof. Sanae Kasmi (Political Science), Prof. Sandrine Simon (Social Science), Prof. Mohamed Marzak (Strategic Partnerships, Adviser to the President), Dr. Ulrich Ufer (Scientific Coordinator SERIOR University Koblenz-Landau), Dr. Alexandra Hausstein (Managing Director, Institute of Technology Futures, KIT)


In March Dr. Alexandra Hausstein, managing director at Institute of Technology Futures at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and Dr. Ulrich Ufer, scientific coordinator of the Graduate Academy SERIOR at University of Koblenz-Landau visited the recently founded Université Euro-Méditerranéenne de Fès in Morocco. Cooperation between KIT, UEMF and University of Koblenz-Landau focuses on establishing joint curricula in the fields of European Studies with special emphasis on the euro-mediterranean region as a space of common risks, political and ecological challenges and joint efforts for sustainable solutions in the field of environmental technology and renewable energy. DAAD funding for 2016 allowed KIT and Koblenz-Landau researchers to give courses on the topics “Social Change in Europe” and to give a lecture “The European Imaginary of the Euro-Mediterranean space”, activities to be continued in November this year. Participating UEMF Master students contributed to an animated discussion.
Further events of this partnership will include a visit of the UEMF delegation in July 2016 to Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and University of Koblenz-Landau to discuss the next steps of institutionalizing the partnership. 
A second workshop at UEMF in Fès is planned for November 2016, involving also the Political Science Institute of Technical University of Dresden in a workshop on the „Geopolitics of the Euro-Mediterranean space“. Another thematic focus will be on the linkeages between environmental science and social sciences that will be central to discussions in a colloquium on „Sustainability concepts and ethics of technology for engineering sciences“.



Prof. Dr. Ingrid Ott, member of the team of authors of the 2016 report of the Commission of Experts for Research and Innovation

The Commission of Experts for Research and Innovation (EFI) in Berlin has passed their new annual report to Chancellor Angela Merkel. Ingrid Ott, professor of economic policy at KIT, has contributed to the work on this repo

Neues Jahresgutachten der EFI
(Picture: David Ausserhofer)

Established in 2006 by decision of the Federal Government at that time the EFI is a six-member council of experts, creating every year a report on research, innovation and technological performance in Germany.

The essential task of the EFI is to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the German innovation system in an international and temporal comparison and to assess the prospects of Germany as a location for research and innovation.

Based on the annual report, the Expert Commission is developing proposals for the national research and innovation policy.

Since 2014 Ingrid Ott, professor of economic policy at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), is a member of the EFI. The economist is concerned at the KIT with the central determinants of growth of modern economies.

Answers to the question why some national economies are economically more successful than others although they are equipped with – according to resources and manpower – an identical potential are the centre stage.

On February 17, 2016, the 2016 Report of the Commission of Experts for Research and Innovation has been presented to the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Prof. Dr. Ingrid Ott is part of the Commission. For further information please click here.


The contribution of SMEs to research and innovation in Germany

This year's report of the EFI is about the contribution of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to research and innovation in Germany. According to reports in Germany the innovation spending by SMEs in an international comparison is low.

The most common obstacles to innovation were excessive innovation costs and too high financial risks. The EFI lamented again the lack of tax incentives for research and development in Germany.

Another issue is the use of robots in industrial manufacturing. According to reports, particularly in vehicle construction Germany is currently well positioned. Competition obligations grow from robotics nations like the US, Japan, South Korea and China.

As an important growth market of the future counts the area of service robotics. In this field Germany is so far not well positioned.


Pent-up demand in the digital economy

The EFI also lamented a need for action in the field of digital economy. The economic importance of data-driven services and business models that can occupy the strategically important access to end customers, have increased significantly.

According to the EFI report Germany was not able to build up special strengths neither in the classical ICT sector (Information and Communication Technology) or in the new, Internet-based areas of the digital economy (Cloud Computing, Big Data). Also regarding the e-government, the management of governance processes via electronic media, Germany lay back in an international comparison.

The focus of the EFI report is not in the representation of individual, isolated facts, indicators or trends, but in the development of the whole picture and the elaboration of the most important recommendations for innovation policy. Detailed specifications and data can be found in the underlying studies on the German innovation system for which the expert committee has taken a Publisher role.

This year's report can be found on the side of the Commission of Experts.

Ingrid Ott in an audio contribution of the broadcast transmitter „Deutschlandfunk“ (Deutsche Unternehmen nur Mittelmaß in der Robotik / German companies only average in robotics, 02.17.2016).

ne/sps, 22.02.2016


(Press Release: www.kit.edu)