Responsible innovation: bringing together technology assessment, applied ethics, and STS research
The ideas of ‘responsible development’ in the scientific-technological advance and of ‘responsible innovation’ in the field of new products, services and systems have been discussed for some years now with increasing intensity (Siune et al. 2009) and led to the phrase of ‘Responsible Research and Innovation’ (RRI). The postulate of responsible innovation adds explicit ethical reflection to Technology Assessment (TA) and science, technology and society (STS) studies and includes all of them into integrative approaches to shaping technology and innovation. Responsible innovation brings together TA with its experiences on assessment procedures, actor involvement, foresight and evaluation with ethics, in particular under the framework of responsibility, and also builds on the body of knowledge about R&D and innovation processes provided by STS and STIS studies (science, technology, innovation and society). Ethical reflection and technology assessment are increasingly taken up as integrative part of R&Dprogrammes (Siune et al. 2009). Science institutions, including research funding agencies, have started taking a pro-active role in promoting integrative research and development. Thus, the governance of science and of R&D processes is changing which opens up new possibilities and opportunities for involving new actors and new types of reflection. In this paper I want to demonstrate at a more conceptual level that Responsible Innovation can build on experiences and knowledge provided by the three mentioned fields of research: ethics, technology assessment, and STS respective STIS studies. To this end I will start by a brief analysis of the thematic dimensions included in the notion of responsibility and the respective disciplinary approaches to explore and investigate them (Sec. 2). The field of technology assessment is then introduced as a major origin of the Responsible Innovation movement including already some of the main ideas behind Responsible Innovation (Sec. 3). Based on the TA tradition Responsible Innovation may be characterized as a broadened extension of technology assessment complemented by ethics and STS (Sec. 4). As an illustration, the field of Synthetic Biology is introduced (Sec. 5).
Volume (Year): 7 (2011)
Issue (Month): 7 (November)
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