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S.NET Newsletter, February 2017

This Newsletter includes a highlight related to the S.NET 2016 conference, where an interactive session on Responsible Research and Innovation and effective dialogue approaches took place, contributing to set the agenda for NANO2ALL dialogues.

D3.1 Dialogue methodology

This document provides an overview of the dialogue methodology, clarifying the methodological options, and presents the specific methods and dialogue formats to be used. In addition, the document serves as a handbook for the science centres that will execute the dialogues, providing guidelines for facilitation to warrant deliberative quality.

D2.3 Online self-assessment tool

Is a manual explaining NANO2ALL’s dialogue methodology, serving as a handbook to execute the dialogues with guidelines for facilitation to warrant deliberative quality.

D2.2 Online Training Needs Survey Report

Consists of a report on the results of two short online surveys performed on small samples of science journalists and nano-researchers across the EU in order to have a brief overview of their awareness and knowledge on aspects such as nanotechnology, RRI, techniques for effective dialogue and stakeholders’ engagement and anticipating the future, and other stakeholders’ objectives, views and concerns on nanotechnology.

D2.1 Current RRI in Nano Landscape Report

Consists of a report that provides up-to-date information on how the EU and a selection of Member States deal with nanotechnologies from policy, research and societal engagement perspectives, as well as the levels of awareness and engagement of stakeholders (scientists/researchers, industry, journalists, policymakers and NGOs/CSOs) with RRI. Additionally, the report identifies and presents an overview of selected national and international dialogue activities conducted with respect to responsible research and innovation and nanotechnologies.

Toolkit for Ethical Reflection and Communication, by ObservatoryNano

The ethical debate on nanotechnology is large and tangled. It is often unclear what the right questions in this debate are, nor whether these questions are specific to nanotechnology in comparison with other emerging technologies. This Toolkit for ethical reflection and communication does not claim to provide a definitive picture of all options in the ethical debate on nanotechnology. Its aim is more modest: we wish to provide the reader with means to frame his own vision of the debate and to sharpen ethical awareness of the parties involved in the development of nanosciences and nanotechnologies. We hope that this will foster the dialogue between philosophy, science, industry, and society. The toolkit does not replace academic research on the subject†. It is our firm conviction that those who think about nanosciences and nanotechnologies are better equipped to do so with a notion of philosophical ethics. This is because the views elaborated over centuries can enable the construction of an argument to respond to new problems and because philosophical reflection itself will suggest new lines of questioning.

Download this document here.

Just a Cog in the Machine? The Individual Responsibility of Researchers in Nanotechnology is a Duty to Collectivize

Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) provides a framework for judging the ethical qualities of innovation processes, however guidance for researchers on how to implement such practices is limited. Exploring RRI in the context of nanotechnology, this paper examines how the dispersed and interdisciplinary nature of the nanotechnology field somewhat hampers the abilities of individual researchers to control the innovation process. The ad-hoc nature of the field of nanotechnology, with its fluid boundaries and elusive membership, has thus far failed to establish a strong collective agent, such as a professional organization, through which researchers could collectively steer technological development in light of social and environmental needs. In this case, individual researchers cannot innovate responsibly purely by themselves, but there is also no structural framework to ensure that responsible development of nanotechnologies takes place. We argue that, in such a case, individual researchers have a duty to collectivize. In short, researchers in situations where it is challenging for individual agents to achieve the goals of RRI are compelled to develop organizations to facilitate RRI. In this paper we establish and discuss the criteria under which individual researchers have this duty to collectivize.

View all details about this paper here.

Reconfiguring Responsibility, Deepening Debate on Nanotechnology

We need to open up the politics of responsible development. Nanotechnology is currently a focus for much excitement and anxiety, and the notion of ‘responsible development’, with its emphasis on safe and beneficial innovation, lies at the heart of current thinking on its governance. But what does responsible development mean in practice? And how can the development of new technologies be infused with the values of democracy and public participation? This report argues that, if responsible development is to succeed in opening up public debate on nanotechnology, it needs to be substantially rethought.

Download this report here.

Public hysteria about technology - where’s the evidence?

It’s a widely held view that the public is anti-technology. Attitudes are often described as ‘hysterical’, ’irrational’ and ‘emotional’. This week the media reports the European Science Chief, Anne Glover as saying antipathy to GM ‘a form of madness’! Some policy makers, scientists and business people have suggested that the public’s fear of technology is holding back science, slowing innovation, preventing technologies from reaching their potential. But what if that’s not true? What if an incorrect perception of public views of technology is leading policy makers and businesses to make erroneous judgements about innovation pathways? What if they themselves are negatively affecting the development of specific technologies and applications in response to a public attitude that isn’t the reality for the vast majority of people and in anticipation of a backlash that looks unlikely to materialise?

There will always be disagreement about policy directions, it is the nature of a democracy, it happens in every area of life, and will never go away. But as Ann Glover says on BBC Radio 4 programme The Life Scientific her job is to provide evidence on science to help policy makers. It appears to me that policy makers should consider and respond to the evidence on public attitudes to contentious areas of science more carefully, rather than rely on their perceptions of what the public thinks to shape their approach.

This brief paper explores why the evidence points to the public having a much more thoughtful and nuanced view of technology than is generally perceived and begins to explore how research and innovation can be better aligned with public’s values, views and behaviours.

Download this paper here.

The Nano2All project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme, under the Grant Agreement Number 685931.
This website reflects only the author's view and the Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.


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