September 1-3 2021

The Economy of promises 2021

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Next event, Wednesday, November 3rd, 9AM

Join us. With presentations by :

  • Sylvain Munger, Université de Montréal
    Le pouvoir des visions de l'imaginaire de l'IA: quand le futur devient un habitus de classe
  • Ange Pottin, ENS de Paris, Collège de France
    Une “énergie fondée essentiellement sur l’industrialisation et non sur les matières premières”: le capital fissile et la promesse de l’auto-alimentation dans l’industrie nucléaire française des années 1970
  • Lahcen Fatah, Université du Québec à Montréal
    Les données ouvertes, un objet de l’économie des promesses technologiques?
  • Lily-Cannelle Mathieu, INRS-UCS
    Les promesses mathématicistes des données d’usage
  • Ermanno Napolitano, Université McGill
    Geoengineering: A Technological Promise?

Registration is now OPEN

The Centre interuniversitaire de recherche sur la science et la technologie organizes an international symposium on the role of expectations, promises, and anticipation in scientific research and innovation. Originally scheduled for August 2020, but postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event will be held on September 1, 2, and 3, 2021.

Recent scientific developments in artificial intelligence (AI), particularly in what is called “deep learning”
has led to a resurging interest in the possibilities of applications of new algorithms in a wide range of
fields (medicine, industry, automotive, etc.). This mirrors the fervor for technological progress already
observed in the previous decade with nanotechnology and genomics. However, the discourses linked to
these technological advances are typically framed in terms of an inevitable technological future that has
yet to unfold for the better of humankind. This discourse is even more prevalent when a certain
technology is viewed as a liberating force or a means to revolutionize human and social life.

Forecasting, projection, and anticipation are, of course, all part of scientific research and technological
innovation. In their article on the sociology of expectations, Borup et al. (2006) acknowledge that “very
little in innovation can work in isolation from a highly dynamic and variegated body of future-oriented
understandings about the future.” Here, the work of imagination oversees research and innovation,
stimulates investment, and organizes scientific and technological fields.

Nonetheless, all of these expectations and promises are subject to a great deal of uncertainty as to
whether research will even reach the point where technology meets the expectations of a technological
future. This has led several sociologists and researchers to speak of an "économie de la promesse" (Joly,
2010), "technologies of hope" (Leibing and Tournay, 2010), a "technoprophecy" (Chateauraynaud, 2005)
or a "prospective technoscience" (Brown, Rappert, and Webster, 2000). These terms all describe a
phenomenon of conjunction between prophetic discourses on science and technology and their actual
development; one that has real and numerous consequences. In fact, the whole field of research is
driven by the rhetoric of promise, from the director of research who seeks to convince a student to work
under their supervision, to governments that fund one laboratory over another on the basis of its ability
to innovate. This dynamic has its own performative effect on socialities that shapes the relation between
science, technology, and society.

The access is free, but you need to register.


Organizing Committee : Guillaume Dandurand (INRS-UCS), Martine Foisy (CIRST), Daniel Letendre (CIRST), Jean-Benoit Cormier Landry (CIRST), Florence Lussier-Lejeune (UQAM) et Marie-Jean Meurs (UQAM)

Scientific Committee : François Claveau (Université de Sherbrooke), Guillaume Dandurand (INRS-UCS), Yves Gingras (UQAM), Vincent Larivière (Université de Montréal), Mathieu Marion (UQAM), Marie-Jean Meurs(UQAM), Florence Millerand (UQAM), Éric Montpetit (Université de Montréal)


  • CRSH
  • HumanIA
  • UQAM
  • Université de Montréal
  • Chaire de recherche du Canada en épistémologie pratique
  • CRC sur les transformations de la communication savante
  • Chaire de recherche du Canada en philosophie des sciences de la vie


Online event

Registration period

August 5, 2021 - 04:00 until September 3, 2021 - 18:00

Contact us

For any questions about the event, please contact

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