Cian O'Donovan

Cian O'Donovan
University College London | UCL · Department of Science and Technology Studies

PhD in Science and Technology Policy (Sussex)
Senior Research Fellow, Department of Science and Technology Studies, UCL

About

28
Publications
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43
Citations
Introduction
Two questions drive my work: 1) How can emerging technologies contribute to a flourishing world? 2) What diverse sets of knowledge, systems and human capabilities are required to imagine and build these worlds? Using Innovation Studies and Science & Technology Studies, I apply these questions to AI, robotics and energy systems across three themes: 1) Science, technology and innovation policy 2) Infrastructures and human capabilities for flourishing 3) Participation, diversity and democracy

Publications

Publications (28)
Article
Full-text available
This article examines the capacity of groups in civil society to observe and mitigate far-right extremism. A critical feature of far-right activity today is the adoption of digital technologies such as social media platforms, email, and distributed chat servers. But transitions in underlying sociomaterial systems also contribute to capabilities for...
Article
Full-text available
Problems framed as societal challenges have provided fresh impetus for transdisciplinary research. In response, funders have started programmes aimed at increasing transdisciplinary research capacity. However, current programme evaluations do not adequately measure the skills and characteristics of individuals and collectives doing this research. A...
Article
Full-text available
In England, a new scheme for collating and sharing General Practice data has faced resistance from various quarters and has been deferred repeatedly. While insufficient communication and ambiguous safeguards explain the widespread dissatisfaction expressed by the public and experts, we argue how dwindling public trust can be the most damaging varia...
Research
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For the second year running students’ A-levels have been graded by their own teachers. Covid-19 has caused disruption throughout the academic year, leading to cancelled exams and forcing changes to how A-levels have been assessed. After last year’s algorithm controversy, the regulator Ofqual announced new plans, yet concerns about extremely high gr...
Research
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A level exams in England have been cancelled for the second year running. Disruption to teaching and the risks of covid-19 transmission in packed exam halls have meant significant changes to how A levels are assessed and graded. Controversy over data modelling and adjustments last year has led to greater focus on this year's proposals. Experts have...
Research
Full-text available
Written evidence submitted to the NHS consultation on data strategy in health and social care. In this submission we provide observations that may augment aspects of the Data Saves Lives (DSL) strategy from a data ethics perspective. In doing so, we pay particular attention to the complexity and scales across which data in the health and social car...
Research
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The two Select Committees are examining the impact and effectiveness of action taken by government and the advice it has received. They are considering a range of issues and we are responding to the consultation under the headings listed, contributing to those where we have expertise and have recently published reports or evidence. These are: 1) Th...
Research
Full-text available
In the UK today, the government does not understand who is in care homes, where they are and for what duration of time. Critical details about the population of people in care homes is missing or is not accurate. While covid-19 has accelerated the pace and broadened the scope of data gathering in the UK care sector homes, comprehensive data on the...
Research
Full-text available
Counts of covid-19 deaths will continue to influence government responses for some time to come. Infrastructures for counting deaths must be adapted to fit evolving circumstances. As we adapt to living with covid-19 data that report how people die and in what numbers should be augmented by information on how they lived and what they valued. A criti...
Research
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The Department of Health and Social Care has launched a consultation into making covid-19 vaccination a condition of deployment in care homes with older adult residents. Whilst some providers have already implemented similar policies, the consultation is intended to inform decision-making about how such a policy could be implemented, whether it wou...
Research
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Immunity certification schemes such as vaccine passports are being advanced by firms and governments around the world. But to date commentary on the impact on people and groups tends to overlook the effects of technologies across scales. This matters because impact at scale is what makes vaccine passports so alluring - promising society-wide benefi...
Research
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Ethical concerns around vaccine passports and vaccine certification cut across scales of space and time.
Article
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Under framings of grand challenges, robotics has been proposed as a solution to a wide range of societal issues such as road safety, ageing society, economic productivity and climate change. However, what exactly is robotics research? From its inception, robotics has been an inherently interdisciplinary field, bringing together diverse domains such...
Preprint
Full-text available
Accountability structures in social care are critical. They facilitate democratic decision-making, responsibility and the equitable distribution of benefits. This study examines how innovation and technology is implicated in such structures. In the UK, innovation and technology researchers have predominantly imagined care as service provision, with...
Preprint
Full-text available
This paper from the SPRU Working Paper Series is about the research capabilities needed to actually do societal challenges. In the paper we describe an evaluative framework with which to assess such capabilities. The framework is operationalised through a three-stage mixed method procedure which evaluates transdisciplinary capabilities as they are...
Article
Full-text available
Research framed to address global, grand and societal challenges has brought fresh impetus to calls by funding agencies for transdisciplinary research. Yet the urgency of such calls is not matched by sufficient knowledge of how to foster and maintain the capabilities to do transdisciplinary work. Significant gaps exist in how to cultivate and maint...
Conference Paper
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This paper explores how explicitly ethical standards for robotics are peer-produced. It describes the motivations, organisation and practices of standardization contributed by a globally distributed community of experts. The research question asks what kind of rules for robots are being created through standardization and what are the motivational...
Research
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Makerspaces can be a source of human capabilities that benefit people and society. But these capabilities will only lead to flourishing communities if they are accompanied by structural changes to our economies, cities and environment.
Article
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The relationship between technology and human capabilities is an ambivalent one. The same technology can expand capabilities for some users under certain circumstances, whilst diminishing capabilities for others situated differently. In this paper we analyse human capabilities in relation to digital design and fabrication technologies as configured...
Article
Full-text available
This paper explores how explicitly ethical standards for robotics are peer-produced. It describes the motivations, organisation and practices of standardization contributed by a globally distributed community of experts. The research question asks what kind of rules for robots are being created through standardization and what are the motivational...
Research
Full-text available
Letter to the editor, Irish Times. Published
Article
Full-text available
For better or worse, science and technology are both deeply entangled in “social progress”. This is the case equally in discourse and practise around the world. In areas such as health, wealth, energy, mobility, and communications, it is widely recognized that remarkable historical improvements— at least for some— all owe much to science and techno...
Technical Report
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The report summarises the activities and discussions at the workshop coordinated by the ESRC Nexus Network at the UCL Institute of Global Prosperity on 1 May 2018. It offers some conclusions and recommendations drawn from the insights provided by the participants, who were all researchers with experience of working on transdisciplinary research pro...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Since 2014, the ESRC Nexus Network has worked to support transdisciplinary research at the food-water-energy-environment nexus, and to create meaningful links between communities of researchers, policy makers, business leaders and practitioners. This report gives a review of what the Nexus Network has achieved over its three year lifetime, and also...
Thesis
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This thesis is about the processes of creating renewable electricity systems in new locations. Specifically it addresses the challenges and drivers of building-up renewable energy system in a `fast follower' country, Ireland. With increasing scientific, political, civil society and private sector agreement on the need to reduce green-house gas emis...
Technical Report
Full-text available
The Nexus Network Resource Conflicts and Social Justice workshop, held at the Institute of Development Studies on 29 February 2016, provided the opportunity to tease out often implicit and unstated challenges that come with nexus frameworks and nexus thinking. In recent years, the notion of the nexus has gained traction in the domain of natural res...

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Projects

Projects (5)
Project
The UK Pandemic Ethics Accelerator is a new initiative that brings UK ethics research expertise to bear on the multiple, ongoing ethical challenges arising during pandemics. We provide rapid evidence, guidance and critical analysis to decision-makers across science, medicine, government and public health. We also support public debate on key ethical challenges.