Technology Assessment

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Moniz, António B., and Kumi Okuwada. Technology Assessment in Japan and Europe. Karlsruhe: KIT Scientific Publishing, 2016. Abstract

The goal of technology assessment (TA) is to lend support to society and policy making by promoting understanding of the problems related to the grand sociotechnical challenges of our time, as well as to assess the available options for managing them. Researchers from Japan and Europe reflected together in this book on country-specific developments to identify the conditions that must be present to anchor TA in science, politics, and society. This book helps us to learn about different cultures.

Hahn, Julia, and Miltos Ladikas. "Responsible Research and Innovation: a Global Perspective." Enterprise and Work Innovation Studies 10 (2014): 9-27. AbstractWebsite

Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) is a normative concept that has captured considerable attention on the Science and Technology (S&T) policy level, but also in academic discourses. It represents a new approach to how science, innovation and research can be shaped in accordance with societal values that builds directly on the concepts and methodologies of Technology Assessment (TA). The definition and operationalization aspects of RRI remain still unclear although key ingredients such as ethical acceptability are well established in S&T debates and embrace a spectrum of standard methodological approaches. In this paper we review the conceptual debate on RRI with a focus on its constituent parts. We then present a functional comparison between RRI and TA that proves the considerable conceptual overlap in the two approaches. We argue that TA methodologies and precepts should be employed as key operationalisational features in RRI. Finally we argue for a global perspective on RRI by describing a case study on global ethics in S&T that introduces an analytical framework for ethics debates.

Moniz, António B., Nuno Boavida, Manuel Baumann, Jens Schippl, Max Reichenbach, and Marcel Weil. "Technology transition towards electric mobility - technology assessment as a tool for policy design." In Colloquium Gerpisa 2013. Paris: Université d'Evry, 2013. Abstract

The paper aims to understand the degree of transition towards e-mobility. The assumption is that the degree of convergence between actors of each system (batteries, vehicles, grid, policies, business models and consumers) is an indicator of changes in the present socio-technical regime. After an introduction to the socio-technical transition towards e-mobility, the paper presents and discusses three technology assessment approaches to several projects related to technology, society and politics. There are several thematic crossovers between all projects presented leading to a synergetic technology assessment. This output results from the overlapping areas between the cases and can be used to first assess the extent of changes in the present socio-technical regime, as well as to extract standards and regulations, acceptance/risk analyses and behaviour changes that could be significant in the context of a transition towards electric mobility.

Velloso, Gabriel T. "Brain-Computer Interface (BCI): a methodological proposal to assess the impacts of medical applications in 2022." Enterprise and Work Innovation Studies 8 (2012): 57-81. AbstractWebsite

Technology assessment is essentially an approach, a collective of the systematic methods used to scientifically investigate the conditions for and the consequences of technology and technicising and to denote their societal evaluation. It is an investigation about the technological developments as well as an evaluation of its potential impacts on society. The assessment of emerging technologies, however, requires special attention. Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) is an emerging technology which allows for the direct communication between the brain and an external device. It is a truly direct connection, with no use of the normal output pathways of peripheral nerves and muscles, allowing for the brain to have control over objects and software without intermediates. To address these kinds of technologies at early stages of development, Constructive Technology Assessment (CTA), a member of Technology Assessment approaches, has been considered as one of the most fitting approaches. As an emerging technology, BCI is at its early stages of research and thus many challenges are still ahead. Mainstream adoption is not expected in least 10 years many challenges are yet to be overcome. Therefore, the objective of this article is to discuss and present a methodological approach to assess brain-computer interface technology considering constructive technology assessment and future oriented technology analysis as the main processes to undertake the assessment. The assessment will focus only on the non-invasive type of BCI and for medical applications in three defined areas: Communication & Control, Motor Substitution and Motor Recovery for a time horizon of 10 years, 2022. These areas were chosen based on the capability of BCI to serve as a replacement of normal neuromuscular pathways. That makes it one of the best technologies to help people in activating and controlling assistive technologies which enable communication and control of the environment. However, the real impacts of BCI will depend directly on the development of competing technologies, and also on the improvement in BCI research. Only then, the potential applications and end users could grow dramatically.

Grunwald, Armin. "Responsible innovation: bringing together technology assessment, applied ethics, and STS research." Enterprise and Work Innovation Studies 7 (2011): 9-31. AbstractWebsite

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).

Moniz, António B. "Synthesis about a collaborative project on “Technology Assessment of Autonomous Systems”." Enterprise and Work Innovation Studies 5 (2009): 83-91. AbstractWebsite

The project started in 2009 with the support of DAAD in Germany and CRUP in Portugal under the “Collaborative German-Portuguese University Actions” programme. One central goal is the further development of a theory of technology assessment applied to robotics and autonomous systems in general that reflects in its methodology the changing conditions of knowledge production in modern societies and the emergence of new robotic technologies and of associated disruptive changes. Relevant topics here are handling broadened future horizons and new clusters of science and technology (medicine, engineering, interfaces, industrial automation, micro-devices, security and safety), as well as new governance structures in policy decision making concerning research and development (R&D).