Scenarios as “Grounded Explorations”. Designing Tools for Discussing the Desirability of Emerging Technologies
This chapter addresses the question of how the analysis of expectations’ plausibility, described in the previous chapters, contributes to the goal of fostering a democratic deliberation on the normative acceptability of emerging technologies (outlined in Chap. 1). Building on pragmatist ethics approaches, the normative ideal of democratic deliberations around science and technology is outlined as an attempt to include different perspectives in the deliberative process; articulate the reasons, meanings and assumptions behind a problem; and explore possible scenarios of how new technologies change our moral concepts and vocabularies. In this context, “moral imagination” is presented as a way of broadening democratic deliberation exercises to create spaces for discussions of “ideas of good” and moral values. After reviewing some types of scenarios that have been developed as tools for discussing the social and ethical issues of emerging technologies (namely, “socio-technical” scenarios and “techno-ethical” scenarios and vignettes), indicating some of their limitations, the chapter addresses the issue of using scenarios to trigger the moral imagination of technology developers. It does so by discussing two exercises based on the analysis of expectations’ plausibility conducted in the previous chapters of this book that have been designed in order to produce a “grounded” and “exploratory” discussion with the developers of the Nanopil and Immunosignatures.