Team:TU Darmstadt/Project/PnP/TMS


For our cooperation with Synenergene we produced four different Technomoral Vignettes. These scenarios shall illustrate the possible aftermath of our application scenario and the resulting changes in society. They focus on personal views of people coming in touch with our technology and the impacts on their everyday life. Cultural and social backgrounds are considered as well as political situations. Please see the page of the rathenau institute for further details.

First TMS

“Point of View”

18th October, 2017: Since one year the first prototype of a prosthesis truck was driving through Sierra Leone. It is the pilot project to see how the trucks are working. Medics could work for 3 months with the truck in Sierra Leone as a welfare service and then report their experiences. Due to the prestige of the project many young doctors want to get the job. They are ambitious but mostly have no deep knowledge about the country. Locals are needed to support them.''


Jonathan was driving in his jeep back to town. His mind circled around the last few hours in the village. Today was the first day he saw the prosthesis truck. As a member of the local administration he had to be there to help the team of Amputees Association to communicate with the locals. Also he had to calm down the villagers, because some of them were frightened by this new technology. Many of them were superstitious and didn’t know anything about recent technological advances. So it took Jonathan a lot of persuading to get the older amputees to take their prosthesis. He did a good job and every amputee got his plastic prosthesis. But he wasn’t happy at all. He had examined the prostheses while explaining them to the people. And he soon realized that those prostheses weren’t able to replace the missing extremities. They might help a little bit, but not enough. Most of the amputees thought they would get a perfect prosthesis and were rather disappointed after they had received inferior replacement. He saw the workers, the big truck and this amazing 3D printer. And all this for some cheap, low-quality prosthesis? In his opinion there could have been done a lot more useful with the money, like the construction of a water supply or a school. In order to have a good life the people needed support to help themselves. Sierra Leone was a developing region. But for the people in the western countries the celebration of new inventions and charity balls geared towards media were more important than the actual outcome or the benefit for the people. Jonathan was glad for every help and knew that some people in richer countries really wanted to help. But the way the help finally was often not as good as it could be. With all the items or food they threw at our country they just induced laziness in the people. If they wouldn’t get things for free they would work better and more together and thus increase the standard of living. He knew that this was the hard way but he had seen what happened before. People received their gifts and after they were used up the whole situation was the same as before. The prosthesis trucks won’t change the country, he was sure.


Michael lay on the bed of his hotel room in Freetown watching TV. He was exhausted but very satisfied, because today was his last day of work in Nigeria. Tomorrow he would fly back to England and start his new job in a hospital. The job in the prosthesis truck really wearied him down. He had to drive to different villages in the whole country. This was not only stressful but also dangerous, since the people in some towns got aggressive and the truck team needed the help of their armed bodyguards. “Stupid idiots! We helped them and they wanted to kill us.” But that didn’t matter anymore. Soon he would be on conferences in Europe and telling people what a wonderful feeling it was to help others and do something good for the world.


In his long life Bashiri had seen a lot of things, including the civil war and the Ebola outbreak. But this strange truck was something different. He went there to get a new prosthesis for his missing right leg. After a medic went over his body with some kind of a light, the medic went back inside the truck. After a couple of minutes he returned with a leg made out of plastic. It looked much better than the wooden stick Bashiri had till now. They removed the peg leg and attached the prosthesis to his body. After walking a few steps he soon realized that the prosthesis wasn’t such a big advantage as it looked. It fitted nicely and looked better than his old one, but the difference during walking wasn’t that big. So Bashiri returned back to work and soon had his mind on other, more important things.

Second TMS

“The Junkyard”

15th April, 2021: Accra, the capital city of Ghana.

As Ebo walked along the green river, he smiled. It wasn’t because of the beauty around him, since the river, flowing through the urban district Agbogbloshie was truly an ugly sight. Ever since a couple of western nations found Ghana as a loophole in the export of electronic waste, it became a disgraceful dump. Everything reeked of the trash flowing through it and lying aside it’s shores. It wasn’t because of the clouds of smoke from faraway fires, where salvagers burnt old cables and computer parts to just make a quick buck from selling the copper and precious metals to scrap traders. It was rather because he was visiting a friend of his. The other day he had gotten a prosthesis and that had been the first day he was happy since the accident two years ago. He lost a hand when a large chunk of the ship he was scrapping came off and crushed it. The prosthesis was nothing special or much more useful to him than a log of wood, it was just a piece of plastic resembling the limb he used to have. Still, to him it was a beautiful gesture to get something like that from a faraway land. But today he was even happier. Today his best friend Gabriel would take his prosthesis and make it a real limb. Of course Gabriel couldn’t craft a real limb of flesh and blood, but he could make it the closest thing to a real hand, that Ebo could imagine. He ran a little shop where he repaired broken computers. They shipped in bulk from western countries as second hand goods. Nevertheless, they’re mostly completely broken and useless. Gabriel is one of the few people being able to get those useless things to work. As Ebo entered Gabriel’s shack, he was greeted by an excited Gabriel. “Welcome Ebo, I have already prepared a little motor for your hand, so you can open and close it. You will be able to work, Ebo!” he said impatiently, wanting to get to work.

A couple of hours passed, a lot of work got done and after the smoke of the machines cleared and the sweat of the work had dried, the two men took a look at their creation. What used to be a mere plastic hand had now a mix of strings and wires with a battery pack on its side and a motor on the base of the hand. The fingers now had joints and Ebo could grasp things by contracting the muscles on his lower arm. This was the climx of Ebo’s happiness. Now he had much better chances to find work again. That gave him an inner peace and motivation he hadn’t felt in a long time.

Third TMS

“Western Promises”

24th July, 2025: After the establishment of prosthesis trucks in African countries welfare organizations started to use them in other countries. A warm wind blows over the houses of Karam. The small afghan village lies on a mountainside in the rural district Paktika. Over a pass through the mountains one can reach the border to Pakistan, which is approximately 40 Kilometers away. Under the clear sky two men sit in front of a house and let the evening fade away.

Nayem takes a deep breath from the water pipe. “Do you think it will rain tomorrow? I want to bring my sheep to the far plain”. “Maybe, I don’t know. Have you heard about this new prostheses-truck?” Anwar asks while sipping his tea. “Sure, they drive through the country and donate plastic prostheses to anyone who needs them,” Nayem replies slowly, knowing that his friend wouldn’t see it that way. “Yeah, that’s what they tell us and wants us to believe. But I’m not stupid! I don’t believe them!” Anwar says angrily, fixating Nayem and anticipating the obvious question. Nayem stares at the sky takes another breath form the pipe. Then he decides that there’s no way to skip this. “So why do you think they are doing it?” he said, doing his best to sound as interested as possible. Inside, he prepared himself for a long and awkward conversation. “They need over 30 Minutes for a prosthesis and nobody is allowed to look inside their truck. A whole truck just to generate a small piece of plastic? There must be something else they’re hiding from us.” Anwar let the words settle in Nayems mind and then explains his opinion: “I think that it’s the newest trick to track down the warriors of Al Qaeda and the Taliban. And then they’ll come to kill them together with everyone around.” Anwar supports the Taliban and always knows the latest gossip from Pakistan. “Last week a house in Waziristan was completely destroyed by a drone killing 12 people”, he continues acting like a teacher. And is there also one of those strange trucks in Pakistan.” Nayem shakes his head in disbelief: “Ok, I agree that these trucks are quite mysterious, but why should they use those prosthesis trucks. They got reconnaissance drones and spies. These are better options to use.” Anwar had expected this naive argument from his old friend. He answered: “They also did it before! In Pakistan they organized a giant Inoculation campaign to find Osama bin Laden. And they killed him! All the years before their technologies, money and traitors helped them nothing! Now they found a new idea to camouflage their acts. They always make false promises. They tell us it’s for our wellbeing but in the end everything they do just serves themselves ” “Let’s assume you’re right. If this ominous truck comes to Karam, they will find a small village with no mujahidin in it. Alziz and Mashraf would get prostheses for free and they move on. I mean we don’t talk to the medics about politics or the purpose of your trips to Pakistan.” Nayem knew that Anwar’s opinion of these trucks was mostly influenced by his own fear of getting caught. “You don’t see the point. They spy on us and every time they think we do something wrong they kill us. Also you don’t know what’s in that prosthesis. They are crap made out of plastic in a strange and suspicious way inside big trucks. If they really wanted to help us they would give us normal prostheses and not those mysterious things. We should stop trusting them. Those stupid prosthesis won’t change much for Aziz and Mashraf and they lived quite well the last 15 years without those plastic prosthesis.” “Yeah, you’re right with that. So what should we do in your opinion?” Anwar asked semi interested. “Well, if everything I heard of works out the way it is planned, the truck won’t ever come to Karam.” “So your friends already planned an ambush. Why do you try to convince me of your opinion if everything is already settled? Looks like the truck is nothing of our concern” “Yes, that’s true.” Anwar replied satisfied. There’s a long pause were both men stare at the horizon. “Do you think it will rain tomorrow?”

Fourth TMS

“African Spring”

8th of August, 2029: the city of Matam in the northeast of Senegal.

„Good morning, Pater!“ said an old man passing the bank Amadou sat on. Amadou greeted him back with a smile. But after the old man had left, Amadou’s smile suddenly disappeared. The old man limped a bit, because he had a foot prosthesis. “One of those damned, cheap plastic prostheses", he thought. He knew that amputees like the old man needed those prostheses, but he hated them for the trouble they made. When the first trucks drove through the country and provided prostheses eight years ago, most of the people were frightened. They saw how the amputees got scanned and after a short time the medics came out of the truck with prostheses fitting perfectly and looking like a scary resurrection of the original extremity. Soon word got out that the scanning process would take a part of their soul and integrate it into the prosthesis. People like Amadou worked a lot to persuade the broad population to accept the technology. The technology was accepted, but most folks still believed that a part of their soul would be in the prosthesis. At first this had a positive effect. The amputees treated their prostheses extremely careful so they had a much longer half-life than expected. Even when the prostheses were damaged, the medics just had to melt the old one before constructing the new one, so it seemed like the soul fragment would be reused. Actually after amputees died, the relatives kept the prostheses and made shrines for them. After a while they started worshipping them and prayed for success in their jobs and health. The Animists were the first to start with this new cult, but Christians and Muslims soon followed in pursuing this newly formed tradition. Soon there was a black market for prostheses. They were sliced, painted and modified in every thinkable manner to be sold as amulets and talismans. Others started stealing them and sometimes people got killed just for a prosthesis. The government wasn’t able to do something against it. All the campaigns they started didn’t help. Amadou talked to the people explaining them that the amulets are useless, but most of them just continued worshipping. Also the radical Islamist prohibited their followers to worship the prosthesis and started destroying them, even those still in use and from non-Islamic people. Thus it came to a lot of conflicts often expanding to a religious and tribal level. The government could only take control of the situation with the police and the military showing massive presence. Since this intervention things had calmed down, but it also felt like Senegal was in a cold civil war. Security was everywhere controlling everything. In Amadous eyes it would have been better, if the prostheses trucks would have never appeared.