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Forging the future. The origins and spread of predictive expertise.

Dr Jenny Anderson, Sciences Po
Date:3 December 2013
Time: 1:00pm - 2:30pm
Venue: KSW.3.01


The talk will explore the origins of a set of key predictive technologies at the American RAND Corporation in the immediate post war period, hereby making a number of reflections on what prediction is and its role in social science as well as in political life. I propose that predictive claims are different from other knowledge claims in that they do not pretend to accurately represent the social world, but rather, to have an active bearing on it. In particular, I study the invention of the so called Delphi method of forecasting, and the way this tool spread from its military context at RAND into central processes of economic and social decision making in the US in the 1960 and 1970s, and in addition, the way that Delphi also made its way into key processes of corporate and global governance on the transnational and global level. I argue that this process was central in the creation of something that we can call a market for prediction, in which actor-experts brand and sell their predictive tools as part of a struggle for influence over world order. 

About the speaker

Jenny Andersson is a senior researcher of the French research council CNRS and a fellow of the Center for European Studies at Sciences po. She currently directs the research project Futurepol. A political history of the future. Knowledge production and future governance in the post war period, funded by the European Research Council ERC.