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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 haussteinWua7∂kit edu




Research at Institute of Technology Futures

Images, concepts and visions of future technical developments, that is, "possible technology futures", are ubiquitous in social discourse. They shape ideas of the technically feasible as well as specific innovation paths. At the same time they influence applications and user behaviour. Even at the meta-level of current controversies and debates, ideas of technical futures are continually being negotiated. They shape research and development in the engineering sciences, which develop technology not for present, but for future societies, users and markets. Images and Visions of the technological future are constructed e.g. in the form of the visions of nanotechnology or as the future of energy supply and mobility. They migrate into social debates, initiate, structure and frame opportunities and risk communication, influence public technology perception, promote research and political decisions. On the other hand, socially debated and constructed futures migrate into technology design and have consequences for the wider agenda of research and development. Communicating about social and technical futures, thus, shapes the co-evolution of technology and society.


We refer to the above-mentioned object of investigation as "Technology Futures".

Technology Futures are ideas, narratives, discourses, visions about future social developments in which technology plays a recognizable role. Technology Futures are thus not a future of technology as such, but the future of human beings and society in which future technologies will play a central role. They can cover all areas of technology, such as future mobility, energy supply of the future, water management of the future, the control of complex technical, social or virtual systems, or the future of the human-machine-interaction. In our research program, we examine technological society and present future discourses in a polyperspective, transdisciplinary approach.


 Workings groups are currently established on topics such as:

  • Discourse analysis as methods for investigating technology futures (involved disciplines: history, science communication, media studies, sociology (ITAS), philosophy)
  • Riskantes Nichtwissen – The Risk of Not-Knowing/ Risky state of not knowing (involved disciplines: history, philosophy, sociology (ITAS), economics, meteorology and climate research)
  • Judgement Aggregation meets Argumentation (philosophy, informatics, economics)








Professorships and fields of research:


  • Philosophy of Nature and Philosophical Anthropology (Prof. Mathias Gutmann)
  • Political philosophy and Argumentation Theory (Prof. Gregor Betz and Prof. Michael Schefczyk)
  • Philosophy of Technology and Philosophy of Science (Prof. Armin Grunwald and Prof. Rafaela Hillerbrand)
  • Future ethics and ethics of technology (Prof. Christian Seidel) 
  • Future risks (Prof. Christian Seidel) 


Research foci at Institute of Technology Futures:


  • Theory and Hermeneutics of Science and Technology
  • Argumentative Analysis of Descriptive and Normative Discourses





Professorships and fields of research:


  • History of the technical-scientific civilisation (Prof. Marcus Popplow)


Research foci at Institute of Technology Futures:


  • Longterm trajectories of historic discourses of technology
  • Analysis of latent dimensions, cultural-historical aspects as well as divergent chronologies of development and use of new technologies.
  • Reconstruction of historical options of the use of technology
  • Adaptions of concepts of the “applied history” on the analysis of technology futures.





Professorships N.N.


Research Foci at the Institute of Technology Futures:

Dr. Alexandra Hausstein:


  • Socio-technical Integration and institutional implementation of “responsible innovation”
  • Clashing Futures
  • Future as a controversial sphere of design
  • Discourses on innovation