From Triple Win to Triple Sin: How a Problematic Future Discourse is Shaping the Way People Age with Technology
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AbstractThis essay provides a critical analysis of the ageing-and-innovation discourse. The ageing-and-innovation discourse is a key rhetorical structure that legitimizes very large investments in technologies for older people. In this discourse, ageing is positioned as an imminent crisis that will affect whole societies, both socially and economically. Investing in technological solutions is, in turn, positioned as a solution that generates benefits on a societal, economical and individual level. This discourse is used to legitimize investment, rally support and reduce uncertainty. We contend that there are three problems with the ageing-and-innovation discourse. First, it legitimizes investment in every technology for older people and thus provides no means of discriminating between useful and non-useful technologies. Second, this discourse presupposes a very negative view of ageing that jars with the positive view of ageing that many older people have, which, in turn, leads to problems with acceptance of these technologies. Third, the ageing-and-innovation discourse creates a moral high ground that makes it hard for opponents to disagree with this discourse. The ageing-and-innovation discourse is a successful rhetorical device, but it ultimately hinders the development of suitable technologies that fit in with the lives of older people and thus needs to be reconsidered by scientists, policy makers and industry.