Social impact of technological change


Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH


For its future orientation, the Robert Bosch Stiftung (RBS) focuses on the long-term effects of technological change on different social contexts. In this regard, the BfZ has been commissioned to provide a strategic forecast. This methodology enables the foundation to ensure its ability to develop strategies and scope of action based on the identification of general factors influencing technological change.


On a global level, technological change leads to profound social changes, which - depending on the social and regional context - are reflected differently. Within the strategy process of the RBS, China and Kenya - archetypes of diverging innovation and modernization patterns - serve as reference examples for (possibly) different future paths. The manifestations of technological change - for example digitisation, artificial intelligence, bio-technologies and the transformation of energy and mobility systems - are not only considered as high-risk factors, but also as "engines" for social and economic progress. Thinking in alternative futures makes it possible to detect weak signals of change that influence future trends.


The workshop participants identified the key factors that guide possible future constellations with regard to the long-term effects of technological change. These key factors structure the participants' knowledge and perceptions and thus enable a better understanding of what forms the technological transformation process can take within the next ten years. Photo: CC BY 2.0, Mike Mc Kenzie.