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'''Overview of Tasks: Small Group Work - 35 min''
'''Overview of Tasks: Small Group Work - 35 min'''
*Task 1: Introduce your pairs to the others
*Task 1: Introduce your pairs to the others
*Task 2: Work out a set of pairs together
*Task 2: Work out a set of pairs together
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'''Task 3: Post Your Group’s Pairs an the Forum - last minute'''
'''Task 3: Post Your Group’s Pairs an the Forum - last minute'''
*Choose one person per group who will post your 10 opposite pairs in this forum below this post
*Choose one person per group who will post your 10 opposite pairs in this forum below this post
'''Reminder: Guidelines for Group Discussion'''
'''Reminder: Guidelines for Group Discussion'''
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*Keep it short and crisp
*Keep it short and crisp
*Listen and refer to each other and speak slowly
*Listen and refer to each other and speak slowly
==Minute 45 - Conclusion==
==Minute 45 - Conclusion==

Version vom 26. Januar 2021, 20:13 Uhr

Technology Assessment - Digital


Technology is omnipresent in our society. It is supposed to make our everyday life easier and solve our problems. But does the technology we use actually do that? Is it designed to meet our needs? And what other demands play a role in the development of technology? Does new technology solve problems or postpone them? Are there also solutions without technology?

In this building block the participants work out 10 opposite pairs for an assessment of technology. These pairs are based on values that are most important to the participants. The opposite pairs illustrate where a technology ranks on the scale between convivial and non-convivial. For this, the participants first individually prepare opposite pairs using the TINS-D constellation. Working in groups, they exchange their results and decide on 10 pairs of opposites together. In the follow-up they use the pairs to evaluate a self-chosen technology.

The term "convivial technology" means life-friendly technology and was originally coined by Ivan Illich. The concept seeks to highlight the social and ecological effects of technology. Its focus is placed on technology's ambivalence as technology has positive and negative effects which must be further analysed with technology assessment.

Einstiegssitzung des Blue Engineering Seminars - digital
Assessing technology in a social context using TINS-D, convivial technology
Technology and society, TINS-D,opposite pairs, conviviality model
Anticipation, Cooperation, Participation, Acting Morally, Acting Independently
Forms of Learning
creative, cooperative
TINS-D, small group work
Group Size
60 minutes
Material and Space
three texts, see references
very good - basic building block in Berlin
Winter Semester 2020/21

Preparation and Follow-Up

Facilitators’ Preparation

The facilitators familiarize themselves with the building block's topic, reading VDI Guideline 3780 "Technology Assessment" and the text on the concept of convivial technology: “The Matrix of Convivial Technology - Assessing technologies for degrowth” by Andrea Vetter.

The facilitators set up a forum for the small groups to post their 10 opposite pairs in. The participants' follow-up will be posted in this forum as well.

Participants’ Preparation


Participants’ Follow-Up

The participants analyze and assess a technology they use daily based on the 10 opposite pairs of their group. They post their results in the same forum below the 10 opposite pairs of their group. Then they read their group members' posts and analyze if the 10 pairs are equally suitable for the chosen technological devices.


Minute 00 - Introduction


The facilitators introduce the subject of technology assessment and explain the aim of the building block. The overall question is not whether we use technology, but how we use technology. The interrelation between technology and society is addressed in this building block.

VDI Guideline 3780 on technology assessment defines the basic terms, provides eight criteria for assessment and introduces methods of technology assessment.

It is important to keep in mind that technology is ambivalent in its effects and therefore most technologies are neither good nor bad. The term convivial technology goes back to a demand by Ivan Illich. He stated technology should be developed to meet people's needs and not to serve a market. This implies that we do not only need to define which technology we need, but also how we as a society want to live.

The participants use the TINS-D constellation to explore different aspects of technology assessment. Opposite pairs for technology assessment show the ambivalence of a technology. Each technological device ranks on a scale between convivial and non-convivial. The eight criteria for technology assessment according to VDI 3780 can be used as an example (Functionality, Economy, Prosperity, Safety, Health, Environmental quality, Personality development, Societal quality). The criteria should be considered individually, but also in their interaction with each other.


Overall Aim of this Building Block

  • Getting to know the conviviality model
  • Developing an own technology assessment as groups

Schedule for today

  • 00:00 - Introduction
  • 00:10 - Individual group work - technology assessment
  • 00:45 - Conclusion

What is technology assessment? - Definition according to World Health Organisation

  • Systematic evaluation of properties, effects and/or impacts of [...] technologies and interventions
  • Covers both the direct, intended consequences of technologies and interventions and their indirect, unintended consequences
  • Used to inform policy and [decision makers], especially on how best to allocate limited [ressources]
  • Conducted by interdisciplinary groups using explicit analytical frameworks [...] and methodologies
  • May be applied to [a] priority setting in [society] and formulating clinical guidelines
  • WHO, p. 6

Why should technology be assessed?

  • “The goal of all technical action should be to secure and improve human living conditions by developing technological means and sensibly applying them.” VDI 3780, p. 12

What is expected from technology assessment?

  • “[Technology Assessment] needs to be seen as a set of skills, and tools, not just a report, and needs to be developed in countries in a way that it is – from the beginning - linked to decision making.” WHO, p. 14

Conviviality Technology

  • Convivial means life-friendly
  • Concept by Ivan Illich - theologian and philosopher - 1926 - 2002

When is technology convivial?

  • Developed to meet people’s needs and not to serve a market
  • Should not prevent humans from being able to take care of their own concrete needs

Assessment of Convivial Technology

  • Which technology do we need for the society we want?
  • Concept has been further developed by Andrea Vetter recently
  • Different perspectives on the life cycle of a technology:
  • What does it bring about between people?
  • Who can we build or use it where and how?
  • How independant and linkable is it?
  • How does it interact with living organisms?
  • No quantitative numbers but sparking a discussion with all stakeholders

Minute 10 - Individual and Group Work - Technology Assessment


The facilitators explain the tasks for individual work and the small groups. Special focus is placed on the opposite pairs. There should be no one-word-criteria. If possible, the participants create two pairs of opposites for each of the five coordinates of TINS-D.

For example, the participants will work out the following opposite pairs:

  • Technology
    • digital - analogue
    • intuitive interface - operation requires instruction
  • Individual
    • technology helps me - technology needs my help
    • developed to meet the needs of a specific person (e.g. the wheelchair is adapted to its owner) - serial production
  • Nature
    • technology benefits the environment - technology with high environmental/resource consumption
    • substances/materials circulating only in natural cycles - substances/materials circulating only in technical cycles
  • Society
    • technology creates jobs - technology replaces jobs
    • technology from which only certain groups benefit - technology from which everyone benefits equally
    • socially accepted technology - socially rejected technology
  • Democracy
    • technology supports democratic processes - technology erodes them
    • visible/transparent - hidden/non-transparent

For better understanding a selection of these pairs can also be given to the participants. The facilitators arrange the participants into groups of 5 and send them into breakout sessions.

The participants work on the tasks on their own and independently in small groups in breakout session without any facilitator.


Task: Develop your own opposite pairs - Individual Work - 5 min

  • note down two opposite pairs for technology assessment to each aspect of TINS-D
  • TINS-D : Technology, Individual, Nature, Society, Democracy
  • e.g.: Technology: high quality - breaks quickly; Democracy: visible/transparent - hidden/non-transparent

Overview of Tasks: Small Group Work - 35 min

  • Task 1: Introduce your pairs to the others
  • Task 2: Work out a set of pairs together
  • Task 3: Poste your group's pairs in a forum

Task 1: Introduce Your opposite Pairs to the Others - 10 min

  • Present your opposite pairs to each other
  • Pay attention to similarities/differences when the others speak
  • Refer to the others when you speak

Task 2: Work Out a Set of Pairs Together - 14 min

  • Discuss which pairs are most important for you
  • Agree on two opposite pairs for each of the five aspects of TINS-D
  • Let all the members of the group speak and finish what they have to say

Task 3: Post Your Group’s Pairs an the Forum - last minute

  • Choose one person per group who will post your 10 opposite pairs in this forum below this post

Reminder: Guidelines for Group Discussion

  • One person starts talking and then determines the next person to speak
  • Show each other if you want to talk (e.g. raise your hand)
  • Keep it short and crisp
  • Listen and refer to each other and speak slowly

Minute 45 - Conclusion


Joint conclusion in the plenary where. The participants/individual small groups present their opposite pairs.

The facilitators refer to the pairs presented, link them to each other and the Blue Engineering course in general. They highlight key points and finish the discussion with a brief conclusion on the discussed content. It is free for the facilitators to discuss the tool itself or to generally discuss the use of the tool. This depends on the group and if the group already understood how to use tools.

The facilitators introduce the tool Technology’s Vicious Cycle

  • Which principles are the basis for the development of technology in our society?
  • Is new technology always better? Does technology solve problems or shift problems?
  • Do your opposite pairs of technology assessment help to break technology’s vicious cycle and how?

Use of tools in general:

  • When does a tool help us reflecting technical innovations?
  • When does it become an obstacle for the reflecting process?
  • What is too much and what is too little criticism?
  • How do we deal with that?


Todays sources and further

Technology’s vicious cycle

Technology doesn't have to be evil to drive a vicious cycle.

The problems of present-day technology are solved with new technology, which in turn result in newer problems, which will eventually require even newer technology to solve the problems of the latest technology. However, this is only possible if the latest problems are taken into account, which will eventually require a much more advanced technology...

Using tools in discussions

  • When does the tool help us reflect technical innovations?
  • When does it become an obstacle for the reflecting process?
  • Is there a better or a worse criticism? Where do you make the difference?
  • How do you deal with better / worse criticism?

Minute 55 - Follow-Up and Preparation


The facilitators present the task for follow-up, the outlook on the following weeks and next week’s preparation.


Today’s Follow-Up: Assessment of a Specific Technology

  • Choose a technology that you use every day and assess it using the 10 opposite pairs of your group
  • Post your assessment in the forum below the 10 pairs of your group
  • Read the posts of your group members and analyse if the 10 pairs are equally reasonable for the assessment of the various chosen technologies

Outlook on next weeks

  • - insert outlook on next building blocks and deadlines -

Next week’s preparation

  • - insert next week‘s preparation here -


Authors’ Notes

This building block can also be realized in 30 minutes. At TU Berlin it has already been presented as a 30-minute version in the third session, combined with a variation of the "25 Questions" building block and the "topic/group finding" building block.

The variation of the building Block "25 Questions by Max Frisch" is performed as speed-dating, so that the participants can briefly talk to as many other participants as possible based on their collected questions and thereby get to know each other better. Here is the schedule as an example:

  • 00 - Introduction
  • 05 - Variation of "25 Questions by Max Frisch" as speed-dating
  • 30 - Technology Assessment
  • 60 - Finding topics and groups
  • Technology Assessment in 30 minutes as follows:
    • 00 - Introduction
    • 05 - Individual and small group work - Technology assessment
    • 25 - Conclusion

Further Notes

Still to come.



Participants’ Follow-Up

Assessment of a Specific Technology - Follow-Up

  • choose a technology that you use every day and assess it using the 10 opposite pairs of your group
  • post your assessment in the forum below the 10 pairs of your group
  • read the posts of your group members and analyse if the 10 pairs are equally reasonable for the assessment of the various chosen techniques