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EASST Conference 2010

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4/09/2010

Track 31: Practicing Public Engagement in Controversial Science and Technology. Title: (Re)-discovering publics and socio-technical imaginaries. Abstract: This paper reports on the progress of an EU-FP7 project titled “Transdisciplinary approach to the Emerging Challenges of NOvel technologies: Lifeworld and Imaginaries in Foresight and Ethics” or TECHNOLIFE. One of the key objectives of this project is to capture the socio-technical imaginaries of persons in a range of occupations and roles that intercept and interact with emerging controversial technologies. These are geographical information systems for civilian use, body modification and enhancement, and the use of biometrics in border control. In this paper, we explain our choice of participants, the media representations used to kick-start deliberations, and how the deliberations were devised to explore what the future might look like. Among the questions we set out with is how to avoid common conceptions of `public vs. experts' which tend to trivialise the social and cultural imaginaries of scientists and engineers, or they miss the occupational and other capacities in which persons (publics) operate and articulate their views. The technology domains we are looking at are uncertain insofar as goes their future development in the hands of those who envision, commission and maintain them, or those who are supported, affected or inflicted by them. There are considerable uncertainties with respect to access, operation, interception and interaction at one or another stage, who is responsible, liable, a target, a subject, and so on. In light of these uncertainties, one of the aims of the deliberations devised by project partners is to identify new issues and emerging new publics, although we project onto the emerging technologies well know issues with bearing on persons' right to privacy, justice, freedom from harm, freedom of choice, equality, and the like. We take a look at existing attempts to experiment with public deliberations and public awareness, for example, where participation has been considerably broadened or designs of procedures do not follow conventional focus-group, survey and other assessment formats but, rather, seek the support of media representations, programming and the creative industries. We consider public deliberations to be ethical acts and we look at our own project in light of these experiments as well as in light of the demands of standardised assessments for the purposes of informing policy. Finally, we contemplate the role of STS and ELSA research in collaborations that deliberately, and experimentally, create new types of venues or spheres for the voices of persons in order to capture their projections of future lifeworlds with new and emerging technologies.

Conference

TitleEASST Conference 2010
Date2/09/104/09/10
CityTrento
CountryItaly
Degree of recognitionInternational event