Conceptualising technology, its development and future: The six genres of technology

Stephen Harwood, Sally Eaves

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

One approach to developing futuristic views of technology is to draw upon experience and expertise. However, this becomes increasingly speculative as one moves to more distant timelines and visionary technological forms. This raises the question of whether it is possible to rationally predict how a technology development trajectory might unfold into the future, perhaps to some ‘ultimate form’, that is accessible, surfaces the necessary technological features for development as well as considers the implications for human–artefact relationships.
The proposed approach is conceptually grounded in a parsimonious framework that examines different configurations of human–artefact relationships, revealing ‘Six Genres of Technology’. This suggests how the shift from human-human to artefact-artefact and the increasing autonomy of the artefacts (technological beings), introduces specific features to each of the six Genres. Four features are identified in the later Genres that in combination, could be construed as, or indeed pose a threat: autonomy, intelligence, language, and autopoiesis.
This paper advances the debate about future technological developments by using the proposed framework to structure an argument about the key issues that should be discussed today - so that the developments of tomorrow can be more reflectively considered, appropriately debated and knowingly pursued.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTechnological Forecasting and Social Change
Early online date30 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • technology
  • futures
  • autonomous technology
  • autopoiesis
  • artificial intelligence
  • foresight


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