Drawing on her studies of science and technology, as well as her experience as the President of the European Research Council – Europe’s leading funding organization for fundamental research – Helga Nowotny shows in her new book The Cunning of Uncertainty, published in October 2015, how science thrives on the cusp of uncertainty. Research builds on what is known, but remains open to the unexpected and the non-predictable. She argues that todays’ societies, faced with rapid changes due to globalization, digitalization and other technological advances, can learn from science not to feel threatened by uncertainty. Instead, we should appreciate that the future is radically open and collude with the cunning of uncertainty and the opportunities it offers.
Helga Nowotny is Professor emerita of Social Studies of Science at the ETH Zurich and is the former President of IWM’s Board of Trustees. As a founding member of the European Research Council, she served as its Vice-President from 2007 before being elected ERC President in 2010, an office she held until 2013. Currently, she is chair of the ERA Research Council Forum Austria, member of the Austrian Council for Research and Technology and Vice-President of the Council for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings. She has held teaching and research positions at King’s College, Cambridge; University of Bielefeld, Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin (WZB) and the EHESS in Paris. She was a Fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, Permanent Fellow at the Collegium Budapest/Institute of Adcanced Study and Professor at the University of Vienna. Helga Nowotny has published widely in science and technology studies, on social time and on science and innovation policy. She has received many honours and awards, among them an honorary doctorate from the Weizman Institute of Science, Israel and from other universities throughout Europe. She is a Foreign member of the Swedish Royal Society of Science and many other Academies in Europe.
Matti Bunzl is Director of Wien Museum. He studied Anthropology at Stanford University and the University of Chicago. He was a Professor of Anthropology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign from 1998 until 2014. There, he also headed an interdisciplinary institute, “Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities”, from 2003 to 2007. From 2010 to 2014, he also served as the Artistic Director of the annual “Chicago Humanities Festival”, held for two weeks each autumn and attracting about 50,000 participants in person. Amongst his publications are Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia: Hatreds Old and New in Europe (2007) and In Search of a Lost Avant-Garde: An Anthropologist Investigates the Contemporary Art Museum (2014).