Technological innovation requires two approaches: a design-oriented approach and a knowledge-based approach. The first one is needed to create adaptive and engaging technologies to maximize value. The second one is needed to understand how technology impacts, and should contribute to understand how to maximize value and minimize friction. These are the basic research themes of the Center for H&T. More specifically, the two research themes encompass:
Adaptive and engaging technologies
Future technologies need to be based on human needs and values at a personal, organizational and/or societal level. They will have to adapt their functionality to maximize these needs and values, and in some applications fields will have to engage humans at these different levels. This is one of the conditions for their successful adoption and diffusion.
Examples of adaptive and engaging technologies that currently have scientific interest are technologies aimed at behavioral change, health and well-being, life-long employability, or a sustainable society. The development of these technologies should take into account that human needs and values vary across cultures and regions, and that the creation and implementation of these technologies has become more and more a complex multi-actor process.
The core methodology for this research theme is user-centered design with iterative cycles of designing new technology and evaluating the related human values through experimenting in a controlled lab setting or "in the wild".
Understanding the impact of technology on humans and society, and developing normative frameworks for future technologies
We need to understand better how past technologies have fundamentally changed human existence, and how future technologies may impact human beings and their society. This refection will help to design technologies with maximal value and minimal friction in a responsible way.
Research questions related to this theme are: How will a robotized world impact people? What will be the consequences of cognitive human enhancement? What can we learn from past failures in technology adoption? And how did our technological choices in the past affect our current societal challenges?
Common methodologies for this research theme are related to modelling humans from a psychological, economical, historical, philosophical, ethical and transition perspective, based on a combination of reviewing existing literature and experimenting "in the wild".
Interacting research themes
Both research themes should not be interpreted as independent of each other; they interact via feedback loops. Understanding the impact of technology on humans and society leads to improved adaptive and engaging technologies, where the impact of these improved technologies on humans and society needs to be analyzed. Ultimately such cycles should lead to optimized technology, implemented in a responsible and acceptable way.