Technology as prospective ontology

Synthese 168 (3):405 - 422 (2009)
Starting from common-sense notions of ‘furniture of the world’ a process ontology is developed in which prospective is an integral part. Technology as configurations that work (precariously) embodies expectations which structure further development. Examples (a cloned puppy, hotel keys, DC airplanes, stem cells, and overpasses on Long Island) are used to develop the notion of material narratives that are “written”, not just by engineers and designers/producers, but also by users: “reading” implies some further “writing”. In contrast to prevailing notions of technological control (through manipulation of building blocks), the “writing” of nanotechnology is modulation of the invisible and impredictable - an extreme example of unruly technology and repair work after the fact, where in practice control is a gesture not so different from magic. Because ontology cannot be other than prospective, it is political throughout. Thus, prospective technology highlights ontological politics.
Keywords Process ontology  Prospective  Embodied expectations  Material narrative  Invisible technology  Control  Modulation  Politics
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DOI 10.2307/40271255
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