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Technologies of Hope & Fear: 100 Responses to the Pandemic

Hundreds of data-driven technologies have been developed or adapted in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. The Technologies of Hope & Fear project looks at a curated selection of 100 such technologies, ostensibly designed to observe, sense, mitigate or modify the behaviour of the coronavirus and its (potential) carriers. Some of these products are new, whilst others reapply existing technology for new purposes; some operate at a planetary scale, others at the level of a single individual. Yet all of them raise the question: do these techno-solutions succeed in controlling the virus – or only controlling the host?

This interactive research project presents each of the ‘100 Responses to the Pandemic’, as well as the companies behind them, to show what types of information they gather and use. The project divides these technologies into four main categories: observing, sensing, mitigating and modifying. They represent only a cross-section of the hundreds researched by Tactical Tech, both familiar and unfamiliar, from fertility tracking to cough detection, from heat-detecting drones to quarantine bracelets. Technologies of Hope & Fear breaks new ground by going far beyond the perspectives of surveillance and privacy to consider the visual narratives and justifications used by these companies, and thus the ‘new normal’ to which they explicitly or implicitly aspire.

Start exploring them here!

As well as presenting selected pandemic products, Technologies of Hope & Fear also looks at the broader themes and dilemmas created by the rapid explosion of pandemic technology into almost all aspects of our lives. What are the consequences of normalising the behavioural and biometric intelligence industry? What are the implications of the pandemic pivot, where technology is repackaged for very different purposes than those for which it was originally designed? And where is the line between public good and private interest, between safety and surveillance, between hope and fear? You can read the full analysis here.

Ultimately this data set offers, for the first time, the opportunity to explore the narratives, visions and worldviews of pandemic products and the companies behind them – but also of their clients, from governments to corporations to other institutions, and thus the future which they espouse.

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