From the introduction: “In this article the broad societal quest for the “right” impacts of science and technology and the imperative of governmental bodies to make “impact assessments” part and parcel of the planning and justification of their major activities will be discussed from a European perspective. The basis of a systematic use of impact assessments and foresight will pave the way for a framework for responsible research and innovation on which a proposal will be made. In the context of European policy making, Technology Assessments (TA), ideally, have to merge with other types of impact assessments, as the success of major public policies increasingly depends on the anticipated impacts or the selected scientific and technological options. Practically, this merging is taking place, both driven by a “policy pull” for impact assessments and by the practice of “assessing” itself.
The “policy pull” dimension does have a reconfiguring influence on the “type” of impacts to be assessed. Whereas TAs have traditionally addressed the “negative consequences” in terms of risks and adverse effects of technologies, the focus of attention within policy is predominantly to demonstrate potentially positive impacts of future outcomes of public policy including research policy. “Negative impacts” are dealt within the context of broader cost-benefit analysis or within specialized fields of policy, such as risk management and risk assessments. The quest for positive or the “right” impacts is a much more overarching feature of public policy. A natural progression to consider is therefore: what are the “right” impacts and how can policy legitimately pursue this quest for the “right” impacts? The subsequent question is then ofcourse how these impacts should be assessed on the basis of various impact assessments including TAs. This article will attempt to answer these questions and how they can be tackled within a new framework for responsible research and innovation.
Von Schomberg, R. (2011). Prospects for Technology Assessment in a framework of responsible research and innovation (external link, last accessed 13 Dec 2013).
More on Rene von Schomberg’s work is available on: Rene von Schomberg’s homepage (last accessed 13 Dec 2013).