The sociotechnical imaginary is a concept from science studies that is used to analyze how individuals, groups and cultures weave implicit technical commitments into their visions of the future. Sustainable intensification has implicated agricultural technology within an envisioned future in several different ways since the idea was introduced in the 1990s. The history of these changes is traced to the current situation, where the potential for genuine change in the direction of agricultural science and technological innovation has become much less visionary and transformative than it was in the early stages. While earlier imaginaries incorporated an explicit recognition of ethics as an element of envisioning the future of food systems, the current sociotechnical imaginary has disciplined this dimension of sustainable intensification, resulting in a very conservative vision that does not challenge the trajectory of agricultural technology that emerged under industrial capitalism.