Imagining the future of photoacoustic mammography

Science and Engineering Ethics 15 (1):97-110 (2009)
How can a realistic ethical imagination about the future of a technology take shape? This article contains a reflection which is based on the experiences of an embedded ethicist in the context of biophysical research conducive to the development of photoacoustic mammography, which is intended for the non-invasive detection of breast cancer. Imagination in this context already informs the activities of the biophysical researchers, but its role is limited: biophysical future scenarios concentrate on the technological advances that photoacoustics could bring about. In this article it is argued that it is advisable to also consider the medical practice and the ways in which this practice is likely to change as an effect of the introduction of photoacoustic mammography into it. On the basis of this more encompassing imaginative endeavor it is possible to get a clearer idea about how new technologies are able to contribute to human well being, which is informative for the setting of research-goals/priorities and a responsible implementation of new technologies into the world.
Keywords Imagination  Embedded ethicist  Breast cancer  Technology research  Human well being
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DOI 10.1007/s11948-008-9079-0
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