What future does Europe have at a time beset by a fear of the future? The optimistic outlook which prevailed only a few years ago has yielded to gloomy doubts.Science and technology have always played a role as a gigantic, if unstable projection screen for public and private imaginairies alike, coloured with utopian or dystopian meaning.Where do we stand today? What are some of the emerging imaginairies that uneasily float across policy discourse, corporate boards, the social media interconnecting the younger generation?
I will then turn to the ERC and what appears to be the seemingly useless knowledge it generates. I will argue that it is precisely its seeming uselessness that permits new uses and new users to emerge, take shape, become embedded in already existing systems, structures and practices or carve out new spaces for themselves. Historical examples abound, showing that solutions were readily offered, but yet had to find and define the problem which they were uniquely suited to address. As always, to jump from lessons offered by history to a complex and messy present is risky. Nevertheless, I will attempt to offer a few guidelines on how useless knowledge is transformed into uses and how users are constituated by using what science and technology have to offer.
Session Chair: Martin D. Shanahan, Chief Executive of Forfás, Ireland
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