For 2012, we highlightened the decisive role of technology and its evolution. We believe that technology shapes the present and the future more profoundly than say, economic policy. It is not possible to design longer term political and economic agendas if we do not understand the dynamics of science and the evolution of technologies.
It was not political theory that created the industrial revolution. Socialism and liberalism emerged as a response to it. It was not politics that created new physics, penicillin, the transistor, the computer or the Internet, the IPhone or social media. But these technologies and foundational knowledge for new technologies all changed the power of nations, lifestyles, mindsets and the futures of peoples.
Human knowledge and imagination is applied to resolve the large and small challenges of everyday life through technology. These solutions create an ever-new present, with new challenges – many directly related to the technologies of the time. The accumulation of tools and technologies has gone on since the dawn of civilizations and the number of tools, approaches and solutions (both hard and soft) will continue to grow as more actors enter this field. Still, the processes through which technologies evolve (often in particular locations) are not understood, and neither is the evolutionary nature of technology. The debate tends too easily to fall into an ideological dialectic where technology is either inherently good or inherently bad. The intent behind each use of technology is a measure and reflection of us, humankind. It is the interplay between new technologies and the political, social and economic context that creates the present and the future.
This was the direction for our exploration during the Tällberg Forum 2012. The challenge we set ourselves was to go “Beyond our imagination” through our conversations.