This interdisciplinary theme encompasses research which examines the impact of new technologies on our understanding of who we are and how we can shape the future. Research within this theme is intellectually diverse, and speculative and dynamic in nature, informed by debates and ideas from philosophy, digital humanities, arts, law, literature and science, science fiction studies, design, engineering, architecture, history, and computer science. Work in this theme covers the following areas:
- the ethical, social, and legal issues in the development and application of autonomous systems (robots and AI), including how humans interact with such systems
- the relationship between humanities, arts, science, and the environment, including energy futures (linking in to the theme of environmental humanities)
- new materials and design paradigms, and their potential to change our social and technological environments (linking to the theme of arts-lab)
- historical and contemporary representations of the future, and what they reveal about attitudes to existent and emergent technologies, including nuclear technologies, Artificial Intelligence, and cloning (connecting to work in the critical medical humanities theme)
- the role of Big Data, simulation, and predictive models in governance, commerce, and society more broadly, and the ways in which it might be used to design the future, as well as considering the desirability of particular outcomes.