Many of the benefits anticipated from technology in the 1960s remain unrealized today. Alongside the optimism that drives technological development, more sceptical views that regard the promises of technology with reflection, mistrust, and even hostility, have emerged within Western societies. One such group is the Degrowth community, a heterogenous group of researchers and activists who question technological advancements that contribute to environmentally and socially harmful economic growth. In this vein, the movement critically observes the current hype surrounding digital technology, which seems to reflect a mantra of “the more digital technology, the better”. This paper presents perspectives that emerged from a dialogue among members of the Degrowth community, who were asked to imagine wise and unwise futures of digitalisation in 2068. Key concerns of unwise futures include increasing disconnection of humans from the natural environment and from one another as individuals, the use of digital technology for optimising the allocation of scarce resources to the benefit of the wealthy few, and authoritarian governance of technologies and life itself. Wise technological futures, in turn, allow people to freely access digital technologies that are convivial, just, environmentally sustainable, and guided by democratic deliberation. It remains controversial how far digital technologies and the interests and skills surrounding them can facilitate the principles of Degrowth, and the extent to which the harmful effects of digital technologies are already shaping social, ecological and technological futures. However, the dialogue clearly emphasised the need to develop more detailed socio-technological imaginaries that provide practically feasible alternatives.
Futures, vol. 114, December 2019