This blog post should have been published in February but my blog was on hiatus at that time.
We have submitted a paper, "Pluralizing the future information society" to the journal "Technological Forecasting and Social Change". The paper is an outcome of the research project "Scenarios and impacts of the information society" where we have worked with developing five different scenarios of what the future information society could look like, and then assessed the environmental impact (and to a smaller extent also the social impact) of these scenarios/societies. I (and my co-authors below) have belonged to the research project sub-group that was tasked with developing the scenarios and this paper is the best place to read about them.
I notice that the last time I wrote about this research project was fully two years ago, but this yet older blog post is more relevant as it describes the five scenarios in question in just a few sentences each. Below is the paper abstract, we are currently waiting for feedback and hoping they will accept it for publication in the journal.
Ulrika Gunnarsson-Östling, Mattias Höjer, Daniel Pargman and Luciane Aguiar Borges
Key words: Scenarios, sustainability, ICT, futures
Following the argument that the sustainability challenges that emerge from the production and use of ICT are complex to evaluate due to the high pace of ICT development, the rapid dissemination of new ICT infrastructure and devices and their unpredictable effects on socio-economic structures, this study shows that there are alternatives to contemporary forecasted futures and exemplifies that ICT can be used to facilitate different societal developments. It is argued that creating parallel possible futures (plural) aids in the process of identifying potential benefits and drawbacks of technological development and situate current decisions in a longer time frame. The process of designing five images of the future of Sweden in 2060 is, then, presented and some of the advantages of using these images for different purposes are discussed. Among the concluding reflections it is highlighted that exploring benefits and drawbacks of different possible futures can empower actors that at the present play a role in shaping and implementing ICT strategies and policies and also actors from other sectors getting to see the opportunities and risks with ICT.