This workshop considers two related questions about the governance of emerging technologies. First, what challenges, limitations, pitfalls and successes emerge from current efforts? Second, how might those challenges be overcome or mitigated, perhaps with alternative models of governance?
It has become more-or-less accepted wisdom – at least in the academic circles of the philosophy, social studies and history of science – that non-epistemic values play a crucial, often inextricable, role in scientific practice. Setting evidential standards, designing experiments, picking which research to follow up or fund, deciding which evidential considerations to include in an analysis, and which techniques to use in data production, all often involve considerations and values which range far beyond what is traditionally considered within the bounds of (ideally) ‘value-free’ science.
But can this abstract recognition of the role of values in science be translated into actual governance, how might it do so and to what end?
We’ll understand ‘governance’ broadly: not only in terms of explicit regulations, but also various personal,
Powerful New Scientific Capacities
In this arena, the development of powerful new scientific capacities have the potential to be transformative of human societies, and so it is crucial to ensure that their development is not only
A common concern regarding governance is the so-called ‘service model’ of governance. Here, governance experts or procedures play a role in ticking relevant boxes as is required. Indeed, increasingly many grants require that provisions are made for responsible innovation.
The worry is that in such scenarios governance is tacked on to scientific practice within individual projects, as opposed to in fact playing an integral part in scientific governance at multiple levels. Of course, it may be that when all is said and done such service models operating at, say, the grant level can be effective, but it is worth at least pointing out that they appear to be in conflict with the close tie between practice and values discussed above.
Governance Within Scientific Practice
One strategy in light of such complaints, which we’ll focus on in this workshop, involves placing governance within
Considerations about, say, the treatment of animal subjects are decided by ethics boards prior to an investigation’s beginning: the four options above suggest that this is insufficient for some cases of scientific governance. Third,
Issues of Accountability
It is probably a bad idea for regulators to have incentives for science to proceed, but it seems equally bad for such incentives to push in the other direction as well. Fifth, are there ways of telling whether governance is succeeding, and is itself fair? Are there, as it were, ways of governing regulation? This question concerns understanding the relevant responsibilities, levels of intervention, and issues of accountability involved in having
These are undoubtedly big, hard, questions – and not something we should expect to get fixed in two days! Rather, the aim of the two days is to collect a set of perspectives on questions like those above – we’re particularly interested in cases where things have gone well – and to lay the groundwork for future work. This could take the form of a joint statement, or perhaps a joint academic paper (perhaps a review article, or something more ambitious) which aims to systematize the purposes, challenges, and opportunities involved in scientific governance at the ground level.