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Ignorance and uncertainty: influences on future-oriented technology analysis

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Future-oriented Technology Analysis (FTA) deals in phenomenological ignorance of three kinds (known unknowns, unknown knowns and unknown unknowns) that give rise to its basis in subjective opinion. These invade both the qualitative and quantitative information co-joined to create outcomes for policy and management in all the STEEPV (Social, Technological, Economic, Ecology, Politics and Values and Norms) themes. FTA then becomes an imaginative projection of current knowledge in which formal methods/techniques play a subsidiary role following Wittgenstein's dictum that ‘methods pass the problem by’. These contentious matters form a platform for discussion, concluding that FTA's practical outcomes are underlain by human behaviour, subsumed under subjective opinion in many dimensions and will be more so as FTA becomes involved with technologies of great social and commercial complexity.
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Keywords: future-oriented technology analysis; ignorance; methods; qualitative; quantitative; uncertainty

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Manchester Institute of Innovation Research, Manchester Business School, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK

Publication date: 2012-09-01

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