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A Vision of Responsible Research and Innovation


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I provide a vision and definition of Responsible Research and Innovation and propose a broad framework for its implementation under Research and Innovation schemes around the world. I make the case that RRI should be understood as a strategy of stakeholders to become mutual responsive to each other and anticipate research and innovation outcomes underpinning the "grand challenges" of our time for which they share > responsibility.> Research and Innovation processes need to become more responsive and adaptive to these grand challenges. This implies, among other, the introduction of broader foresight and impact assessments for new technologies beyond their anticipated market-benefits and risks. Social benefits of new technologies need to take into account widely shared public values. This implies a paradigm shift in innovation policy, moving away from an emphasis on key technologies towards issue and mission oriented policies. Background information can be found on:
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A vision of Responsible Research and Innovation
Please cite as: Von Schomberg, Rene ( 2013). "A vision of responsible innovation". In: R. Owen, M.
Heintz and J Bessant (eds.) Responsible Innovation. London: John Wiley, forthcoming
René von Schomberg
Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) has become an increasingly important phrase within
policy narratives, in particular in Europe, where it will be a cross-cutting issue under the
prospective EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation “Horizon 2020”. In EU
member states, there are also various initiatives supporting RRI, notably under schemes of
national research councils (e.g. the United Kingdom, Norway, and the Netherlands). However,
there is no agreed definition of the concept, and approaches how it should be implemented may
This chapter outlines a vision behind Responsible Research and Innovation, taking a largely
European policy perspective, provides a definition of the concept and proposes a broad
framework for its implementation under Research and Innovation schemes around the world.
I will make the case that RRI should be understood as a strategy of stakeholders to become
mutual responsive to each other and anticipate research and innovation outcomes underpinning
the “grand challenges” of our time for which they share responsibility.
Research and Innovation processes need to become more responsive and adaptive to these grand
challenges. This implies, among other, the introduction of broader foresight and impact
assessments for new technologies beyond their anticipated market-benefits and risks.
Dr. Dr.phil. René von Schomberg (email: is at the
European Commission, Directorate General for Research. The views expressed here are those of
the author and may not in any circumstances be regarded as stating an official position of the
European Commission.
I will provide a responsible research and innovation matrix consisting of lead-questions to be
addressed by stakeholders in order to satisfy responsible research and innovation requirements
1. Introduction: Technical inventions, innovation and responsibility
In order to be able to specify the ‘responsibility’ in Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI),
I will contrast the process of modern innovations with mere technical inventions. In order to be
able to understand the responsibility concept solely with regard to technical inventions, I will
give an historical example of pre-modern times, so that we “isolate” the role of responsibility and
rule out any connotations of ‘responsibility’ with a view on a modern innovation context with
which we are so familiar.
At the very beginning of the 18th century the Portuguese priest Bartolomeu Lourenço de Gusmão
claimed to have developed a “machine for sailing through the air”. His invention was called
Passarola (meaning “ugly bird” in Portuguese- because of its resemblance to a bird) and the
“ship” was filled with numerous tubes through which the wind was supposed to flow and would
fill out bulges (see design of the prototype, fig 1.).
Bartolomea informed the Portuguese king John V about his inventions in a letter
: “Father
Bartolomeo Lourenço dares to inform Your Majesty that he has discovered an implement by
which he can travel through air […]. With it, he will manage 200 leagues a day: thus, he will be
able to bring armies and far away countries news and orders […]. The furthermost regions will
be discovered, at the world's poles, and the Portuguese nation will benefit from such discovery
The quotes come from the original letter Bartolomeo wrote to King John V. It is displayed at the
exhibition “Lux in Arcana. The Vatican secret archives reveals itself “(Capitoline Museum, Rome, March
2012-September 2012). The Museum display gives the following further information: Gusmão presented
a demonstration of his inventions, but we do not know for sure if the passarola itself was used, or simply
a hot-air balloon. Neither do we know how big the prototype was: it seemed to be triggered by a strange
combination of sails, wings and electromagnetism.
Figure 1: Prototype of the Passarola (adopted from
Bartolomeo pointed not only to the potential benefit of his invention but also to its negative side-
effects: Many crimes will be committed, as it allows to easily flee from one country to the
other: its use will have to be limited.
On April 17, 1707, John V decreed the exclusive right for Bartolomeo to perfect […] his
machine […]”, and assigned him a lifelong appointment at Coimbra University. In the same
decree John V made clear that anyone trying to copy his work would receive the death penalty.
This historical example shows that “responsible” use and control of technical inventions should
be limited to those that are supposedly deemed able to act responsibly: in this case the king
(Grinbaum and Groves, this volume). Technical inventions up to modern times are still
considered with a view on “who is in control” and “who can make use of it’’. Negative
consequences of the technology are notably associated with who can use/misuse the technology,
rather than with the properties of the technology itself. The priest was apparently not very much
occupied with the risks of the use of his “ship’ and the safety of the prospective travelers. The
politics of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons still echoes this tradition: only a few
‘responsible’ governments are supposed to control the production of these weapons. All others
should keep moral constraint and trust the responsible” governors of this technology.
Whereas technological inventions where, historically, controlled by a central agent to avoid
abuse, modern innovations are distributed through market mechanisms whereby property rights
allow, in principle, the further improvements of the innovations by other market operators over
time. Economic exploitation of innovations implies a loss of a sole control agent; yet the state
demands from industrial operators that they address the so called three market hurdles of
efficacy, quality and safety before they can legally market their products or processes.
Responsible marketing is thus ensured by conditions required by state regulations and (product)
law specifies the legal requirements prior to marketing. In the area of pharmaceuticals, even a
fourth hurdle of clinical effectiveness and cost-efficiency became operational under modern
legislation to some extent, not in the least in order to be more responsible for the outcomes of
innovation processes. For modern innovations, responsibility for the consequences of
implementation is primarily related to the properties and characteristics of the products or the
technology and less to the privileged owners and creators of the technology. On the contrary, all
informed citizens should be able to make (safe and responsible) use of it and the “benefits” of
new technologies are determined by their success on the market (rather than the glory of a nation
or of the king- national space and defense programmes, however, still echo the pre-modern pride
associated with the mere ability to do things others cannot do).
Modern technological innovation therefore receives its specific form by technology which has
been democratized in its use and privatized in its production. Competition on the market should
ensure product improvement for the benefit of all, rather than a demonstration of the capabilities
of a single actor (the king or the state) and its establishment of superiority. Technology from now
on can be discussed in terms of benefits and risks for all citizens. Competition on the market is
fostered by an openness and access to knowledge
. Innovation becomes a goal itself, with
improvements of existing products and services through innovation being achieved via the free
However, this ‘evaluation” scheme of benefits and risks of technology is now put in question by
the call for responsible research and innovation. I will elaborate this claim in the section below.
2. Responsible research and innovation and the quest for the right impacts of research
In modern societies we do not have a specific forum or policy for evaluating particular
technologies within the legislative context. We only have at our disposal formal safety, quality
and efficacy assessment procedures evaluating the properties of products in the course of passing
the three market hurdles. Different technologies are often combined in single products. Thus,
eventually the benefits of technologies are “demonstrated” by market success and the potential
negative consequences are evaluated under formal risk assessment schemes. This gives a
peculiar division of responsibilities among the stakeholders concerned. The state is responsible
for defining the risks of technologies under product authorization procedures and product
liability law and ensuring market operators compliance, whereas we lack a particular
responsibility for what could count for as a positive impact of the technology. The assumption
here is that these “benefits” cannot be universalized and that through a pluriformity of the
market, consumers are offered a variety of choices and thus the diverging preferences of
consumers can be satisfied. Competitors can improve their products through innovation, driven
by market demand. Thus, the normative dimension of what counts as an “improvement” is
decided by market mechanisms. On top of that, technological innovations are unpredictable and
In the time of Bartolomea, it was important to keep your knowledge for yourselves rather than sharing
the knowledge with a view on scientific progress or innovation. The curators of the museum explain:
Nowadays the passarola seems to have been conceived by Gusmão to trick the many snoopers who
wanted to know the results of his experiments. It seems that the scientist also contributed to the spread of
false news on the press about one of his flights from Portugal to Vienna aboard the Passarola.
positive impacts of innovations under public research and innovation policy schemes are solely
justified in purely economic terms. For instance, one assessment is that achieving the EU target
of 3% of EU GDP through research and development could create 3, 7 million jobs and increase
annual GDP by close to 800 billion Euros by 2025
. This assessment is completely ‘neutral’ to
which particular technologies (with the accompanying benefits and risks) will eventually hit the
market and which technologies are specifically associated with the increase of jobs
. The positive
impacts of research and innovation are generally couched in terms of fostering the prosperity and
wealth of nations and the availability of finance for research and innovation in general is seen as
a condition to achieve this prosperity.
The Flagship Innovation Union is a central part of the EU 2020 strategy and within this
innovation is seen as means for “smart growth”, defined as “developing an economy based on
knowledge and innovation (EC, 2010, page 3). The Innovation Union aims “to improve
framework conditions and access to finance for research and innovation so as to ensure that
innovative ideas can be turned into products and services that create growth and jobs”.
Discussing particular technologies in terms of benefits or risks within this frame are informal:
there is no formal weighing under public policies of the benefits of particular technologies versus
their risks. While there is a clearly defined responsibility for operators and the state to address
the risks in formal procedures, there is no equivalent for a formal evaluation of the benefits. The
responsibility for the positive outcomes of the use of technologies evaporates once they are
marketed (whereas responsibility for the negatives outcomes remains). More importantly, there
seems to be no normative baseline to which we could judge the positive impacts and benefits of
technologies. The responsibility for the positive impacts is left to market operators who look for
P. Zagamé (2010) The Cost of a non-innovative Europe. (quoted in the Europe 2020 Flagship Initiative
Innovation Union (2011), p5.
Although the positive impacts of research and innovation cannot be specified for particular technologies,
as their development is unpredicitable, this unpredictability is sharply contrasted with rather precise
economic figures in terms of GDP increase and job production (Would we require less investments in
RTD if the figure of 3,6 million jobs turns out to be far less, or call for more investments, if the figure is
much higher?).
economically exploitable products. Public investment in research and innovation policy and thus
the positive outcomes of science and technology are primarily justified in macro-economic
This implies that a discussion on the benefits and risks of a particular technology is not only
necessarily informal, but it is also artificial A formalization of an evaluation of the positive
outcomes (other than in macro-economic terms) is not possible: the success of innovation on the
market is unpredictable and reflects a continuous shift of needs and preferences of consumers on
the market. Innovation is not fully in the hands of the producers of technology, but users of the
technology can dramatically shift the context of use of the technology and thereby trigger off
new innovations. For example, the Kinect interactive games made for home computers by
Microsoft have been recently used by surgeons to carry out delicate keyhole surgery. This shift
of context of use by the users/consumers of this technology was completely unforeseen by
Microsoft, yet experts now believe that this technology, further adapted to the surgery context,
will be the norm over the next 10 to 15 years (Adam Brimelow, health correspondent, BBC
news, 31 May, 2012). German researchers have transformed the Kinect technology into an
interactive, augmented reality X-ray machine. These new applications are enabled by the
availability of open source framework software. It is likely that many more contexts of use will
trigger off innovations which course cannot be foreseen.
This brings us to the apparently impossible question to answer: can we justify our public
investments in research and innovation beyond uncertain and unpredictable macro-economic
Eric Cantor, Majority leader in the US senate thinks we can and should, and he launched a
website “You cut”, allowing citizens to vote on cutting particular research funding programmes.
Cantor, at the launch of his website three years ago, complained that federal funds had been
used, among other things for supporting researchers to improve video gaming technology. Cantor
wants to change the “culture of spending” and invites citizens to vote on cutting wasteful federal
programmes. Currently, Eric Cantors website, among others, allows citizens to vote on the
termination of the Christopher Columbus Fellowship foundation, which was designed to produce
new discoveries in all fields of endeavor for the benefit of mankind but allegedly does not
“demonstrate clear outcomes”( Cut, 112th Congress, week 27).
The website is specialized towards negative voting (e.g. “you cut”) rather than what people do
wish to support. The following question may arise: would people have complained about (or
voted to cut) support to develop video gaming technology, if they could have known the
potential of other contexts of use, such as surgery? How are citizens to evaluate whether the
Christopher Columbus Fellowship program does not deliver? It seems tricky enough to
“negatively” vote on programmes such as public support for video-gaming technology. Is it then
not virtually impossible to decide upon positive outcomes, which we all wish to achieve? Or
even more complicated: is it not possible to direct innovation and its funding mechanisms to the
right impacts?
Responsible research innovation would then need to be related to two issues:
Can we define the right outcomes and impacts of research and innovation?
Can we subsequently be successful in directing innovation towards these outcomes if we would
agree upon them?
I will deal with those questions in the subsequent paragraphs.
3. Defining the right impacts and outcomes of research
Some philosophers of technology have recently argued that science should move beyond a
contractual relationship with society and join in the quest for the common good. In their view,
the "good in science, just as in medicine, is integral to and finds its proper place in that
overarching common good about which both scientists and citizens deliberate"(Mitcham and
Frodeman, 2000). This view may sound attractive, but it fails to show how various communities
with competing concepts of the "good life", within modern societies, could arrive at a consensus
and how this could drive public (research) policy. Moreover, an Aristotelian concept of the good
life is difficult to marry with a modern rights' approach, whereby, for instance in the case of the
European Union, the European Charter of Fundamental Rights provides a legitimate and actual
basis for European Public Policy. Nonetheless, their point of departure remains challenging: "We
philosophers believe that publicly funded scientists have a moral and political obligation to
consider the broader effects of their research; to paraphrase Socrates, unexamined research is not
worth funding" (Frodeman and Holbrook, 2007)
European policy however is also increasingly legitimized in terms of public values driving public
policies towards positive impacts. The following citations of prominent European policy makers
illustrate the case:
“The defence of human rights and a justice system based on the full respect of human
dignity is a key part of our shared European values” Jerzy Buzek, European Parliament
President (10 October, 2009)
"Europe is a community of Values". Van Rompuy, First European Council President, 19
November 2009
"My political guidelines for the Commission's next mandate stress the idea that Europe's
actions must be based on its values". President Barroso, European values in the new
global governance, 14 October 2009
Indeed, European public policies are arguably driven towards positive impacts, underlined by
common European values. European Environmental policies for example, highlight the European
value of maintaining a high level of protection for the environment. Research and Innovation
policy seem to have been an exception to the rule and, although we articulate research and
innovation policy since recently more and more in terms of public values, research and
innovation programme assessments are typically limited to economic terms that "imperfectly
take into account these values"(Fisher et al, 2010).
The US National Science Foundation assesses their proposals in terms of "broader impacts" in
the framework of considering research proposals worth funding. Under the European Framework
Programmes for Research, there is a long tradition of awarding research grants on the basis of
anticipated impacts. Indeed, even at the stage of evaluation of research proposals particular
impacts are sought. Currently, expected impacts of research topics which are subject to public
calls for proposals are listed in the work programmes of the 7th Framework Programme. But are
there legitimate, normative assumptions which support these expected impacts that allow an
articulation of the ‘right impacts that allow us to steer public research agendas? We can’t make
an appeal to concepts of the good life, but we can make an appeal to the normative targets which
we can find in the Treaty on the European Union. These normative targets have been
democratically agreed and provide the legitimate basis for having a public framework
programme for research at the European Level. From article 3 of the Treaty on the European
Union (European Union, 2010) we can derive the following:
“The Union shall (…) work for the sustainable development of Europe based on balanced
economic growth and price stability, a highly competitive social market economy, aiming
at full employment and social progress, and a high level of protection and improvement
of the quality of the environment. It shall promote scientific and technological advance.
It shall combat social exclusion and discrimination, and shall promote social justice and
protection, equality between women and men, solidarity between generations and
protection of the rights of the child.
To promote (..) harmonious, balanced and sustainable development of economic
activities, a high level of employment and of social protection, equality between men and
women, sustainable and non-inflationary growth, a high degree of competitiveness and
convergence of economic performance, a high level of protection and improvement of the
quality of the environment, the raising of the standard of living and quality of life, and
economic and social cohesion and solidarity among Member States.
Rather than pre-empting views and concepts of the “good life”, the European Treaty on the
European Union provides us then with normative anchor points. These normative anchor points
and their mutual relationship thus provide a legitimate basis for defining the type of impacts, or
the “right” impacts of research and innovation should pursue. (See figure 2 below). These are of
course normative anchor points which have impacts beyond the EU. The EU’s commitment to
promote Human Rights and demonstrate solidarity with the poorest on earth is reflected in its
international policies. If applied to international Research and Innovation policies, this could
invite us to address issue such as “technology divides”, ethics free zones and broad benefit
sharing from scientific and technological advance (see Ozolina et al, 2012). Research and
Innovation policy can also be a form of development policy.
Figure 2. Normative anchor points derived from the Treaty on the
European Union
4. From normative anchor points towards defining “Grand Challenges and the direction
of innovation.
Under the prospective framework programme Horizon 2020, a number of ‘Grand Challenges
have been defined, which follow the call in the Lund Declaration for a Europe that” must focus
on the grand challenges of our time” (Lund Declaration, July 2009). Sustainable solutions are
sought in areas such as “global warming, tightening supplies of energy, water and food, ageing
societies, public health, pandemics and security (Lund Declaration, p.1- 2009).
Arguably, the “grand challenges” of our time reflect a number of normative anchor points of the
Treaty and thus can be seen as legitimate. The Lund declaration states that in order to be
responsive the European Research Area must develop processes for the identification of Grand
Challenges, which gain political support and gradually move away from the current thematic
approaches, towards a structure where research priorities are based on these grand challenges”. It
hopes to give direction to research and innovation in the form of “broad areas of issue-oriented
research in relevant fields”. It calls for (amongst other things), broad stakeholder involvement
and the establishment of public-private partnerships.
The macro-economic justification of investment in research and innovation emphasizes that
innovation is the “only answer” to tackle societal challenges: “returning to growth and higher
levels of employment, combating climate change and moving towards a low carbon society”
(EC, From Challenges to Opportunities: Towards a Common Strategic Framework for EU
Research and Innovation Funding. Green paper, com (2011)48, p.3.). This approach implicitly
assumes that access to and availability of finance for research and innovation will automatically
lead to the creations of jobs and economic growth, thereby taking on the societal challenges
along the way. The more innovation, the better. The faster it becomes available, the better. In this
macro economic model, innovation is assumed to be steerless but inherently good as it
produces prosperity and jobs and meets societal challenges, addressed through market-demand.
The Lund declaration gives however an alternative justification for investing in research and
innovation, primarily framing this in terms of responding to societal Grand Challenges and
further stating that “meeting the grand challenges will be a prerequisite for continued economic
growth and for improved changes to tackle key issues”. Here the assumption is that sustainable
economic growth is only possible when particular societal objectives are met, in the form of
responding to Grand Challenges. Innovation is neither seen as steerless nor as inherently good.
Economic prosperity and the anticipation that h innovation yields positive anticipated impacts
(such as the creation of jobs and growth) become dependent upon the social context. The Lund
Declaration points out those measures are “needed to maximize the economic and societal
impact of knowledge” (italics by the author). The idea is clear; to steer the innovation process
towards societal beneficial objectives. Additional measures that go beyond removing barriers for
research and innovation, availability of and access to finance of research and innovation become
then necessary. The Lund declaration defines a type of justification of investment in research and
innovation towards particular positive outcomes. The Lund declaration underlines a justification
of research and innovation beyond economic terms and with a view on particular outcomes.
Recently, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Geoghegan-Quinn
stated at a conference on ‘Science in Dialogue’ that ‘research and innovation must responsible to
the needs and ambitions of society, reflect its values, and be responsible’’
5. Responsible Research and Innovation: Organizing collective responsibility
The impacts of technological innovations are difficult to predict. Social scientists have given up
the idea of ever being able to foresee technological innovations and the field of science and
technology studies has abandoned ideas of “technological forecasting” since the 1970s. Recent
forms of technology assessment (among other “real time technology assessment”, Guston and
Sarewitz (2001) generally focus their attention on monitoring of research and innovations
processes or make them more dynamic and inclusive (Schot and Rip, 1997). Responsible
research and innovation has to reflect these circumstances. Pre-modern technical inventions can
be still be judged by the moral intentions of their designers or privileged users. Modern
innovations hardly ever have a single “author” who can be held responsible for the use (by
others). Moreover, the negative consequences are often neither foreseeable nor intentional. The
fear of a mad scientist creating a Frankenstein is not appropriate in the context of modern
innovation- where knowledge is co-produced by many “authors”. Modern “Frankenstein's” are
not intentionally created by a single actor, but, if they arise, are more likely the unforeseen side
effects of collective action. Indeed, techno-scientific applications can remain ethically
problematic even in cases where scientists and engineers have the best possible intentions and
users have no conscious intention to misuse or abuse. This situation constitutes the major ethical
challenge we face today. An ethics focused on the intentions and/or consequence of actions of
individuals is not appropriate for the innovation
(Grinbaum and Groves, this volume). There is a
Conference "Science in Dialogue". Towards a European Model for Responsible Research and
Innovation Odense, Denmark 23-25 April 2012
I have outlined the concept of collective co-responsibility in response to the actual shortcomings of
actual professional role-responsibility in science and engineering in: From the ethics of technology
towards an ethics of knowledge policy & knowledge assessment, A working document for the services of
the European Commission, Publication Office of the European Union, 2007. Free Pdf available at
collective responsibility both for the right impacts and negative consequences, whether these
impacts are intentional or not. This is why I have argued for the necessity of knowledge
assessment procedures (Von Schomberg, 2007).
In order to specify a scheme, which effectively organizes collective responsibility, we should
first get a better picture of what counts as irresponsible innovation in the modern context.
Examples of irresponsible innovation
As many actors are involved in innovation processes, “irresponsible” outcomes are seldom the
result of one single irresponsible actor. More typically, irresponsible innovation is reflected in
practices where stakeholders were unaware of the importance of societal context, or where
stakeholder interactions were unproductive in the resolutions of conflicts.
I categorise here four types of irresponsible innovation: Technology push, Neglectance of
fundamental ethical principles, Policy Pull, and Lack of precautionary measures and technology
foresight. One seldom finds examples which reflect only one of these four dimensions of
‘irresponsible’ innovation, as more often a mix of these are at play. Nonetheless, in particular
examples, one particular dimension may play a more dominant role than in another.
Technology push has occurred in the European Union when Monsanto tried to accomplish a fait
accompli with the market introduction of genetically modified soya in the mid-1990s.
Environmental groups, (notably Greenpeace who did not react to GMOs as an environmental
concern prior to their introduction on the market) responded with an outright rejection when the
first shipment of genetically modified soya entered the port of Rotterdam in 1996. The further
process of innovation (or lack of it) was framed by an often bitter fight among a very few
industrial actors and a growing group of NGOs opposing the introduction of the “technology.
This occurred amidst indecisive and reluctant European national governments devising
contradictory measures, some of which had to be challenged at the European Court of Justice by
the European Commission. During the subsequent years after the first marketed GMO, NGOs
and European governments were overbidding each other with calls for stricter regulations of
GMOs, eventually resulting in a revised set of GMO regulations and directives (notably directive
2001/18, EC, 2001), which up to date were never applied consistently and currently the
European Council considers a response from the European Parliament to a Commission
proposal to give Member States somewhat more flexibility in banning cultivation of GMOs on
their own territory. The general public learned to become deeply sceptic about future
applications and the general public perception was constituted that this type of innovation does
not deliver a sufficient benefit
. A major European operator, BASF, made the announcement in
January 2012 not to market a genetically modified potato after lengthy consultations with NGOs,
and withdraw from the European market even though it managed to receive an authorisation to
cultivate the potato in 2010. This was only the second granted authorisation, the first being for
GM maize in 1998. This second authorisation was remarkable as virtually all previous
procedures were inconclusive, and this particular "authorisation" success seemed to have
triggered a further collapse of the system, mobilizing the EU Member States unwilling to grant
approval for cultivation.
What is the irresponsible dimension?
This example shows how substantial dissent among major stakeholders frustrates responsible
development. NGOs felt that they had little influence on the direction this technology would lead
us in. Regulations were exclusively focused on the safety aspects and the broader
environmental, social and agricultural context was not brought into the equation. The need for
European harmonization of market introduction sharply contrasted with a variety of national
cultures and led to a defacto moratorium in 1998. The outcome should be seen as irresponsible
because one company took the lead with a technology push, some NGOs then entered the
discussion with a radical view at the moment the technology hit the market stage: the result was
that the rest of the industrial sector had to pay a price. A cumbersome slow political process on
adopting ever new measures under the already comprehensive framework sealed the sectors fate.
The Eurobarometer survey of October 2010 mentions (among other) that 61 percent of Europeans feel
uneasy about GM food, and 53 percent believe that GM does harm the environment. In not a single
Member State, there is a majority believing that GM food is good for the national economy.
See the instructive article of Vesco Paskalev (2012). "Can Science tame politics: The collapse of the
new GMO Regime in the EU" in: European Journal of Risk Regulation, 2/2012, p. 190ff.
The example shows the requirement for stakeholders to share co- responsibility for innovation
trajectories. Technology push is a self-defeating strategy. Unlike Monsanto, BASF operated
clearly more in line with the requirements of responsible research and innovation. It had to take a
painful decision but has gained from this by promoting, a good company image, whereas
Monsanto is still often perceived as the "bad guy". Interesting to note is that in the Netherlands
discussions among stakeholders (including NGOs) on the course agricultural biotechnology
should take (i.e. prior to the marketing of any product) were reopened after the actions of
Greenpeace and delays concerning implementation of proper labeling schemes at a national
level. There was consensus at the national level among some operators and public
administration (Von Schomberg 1999) despite disagreements at the EU level. This shows that
EU legislation which frustrates stakeholder agreement can in fact make things worse.
Neglectance of fundamental ethical principles
The Dutch government had to abandon a project on constituting an electronic patient record
system (EPRS) in 2011, after the senate voted down the project with a view on unresolved
privacy issues. The decision is, in economic terms, disastrous: 300 million euro had been
invested over the previous 15 years. EPRS projects elsewhere in the EU face similar problems.
The reason for the failure is that privacy issues were only dealt with at a very late stage of the
project, which was initially fully technology driven. Issues such as “who owns the data”, and
“who is responsible for mistakes” (and their consequences!) became difficult to deal with once
the project was technically matured. In addition, the technology evolved over a long period (as
ICT technology became significantly more powerful), and lack of proper technology foresight
precluded proper implementation. Economic loss for a project which in itself carries a legitimate
public purpose should be seen as irresponsible. The costs of acting "irresponsibly" are always
substantial. A top-manager of Nokia states: "Typically, the costs of corrective actions are a
thousand times more costly when a service is in the operational phase compared to the design
Earlier stakeholder involvement, earlier and better public engagement, notably taking into the
account the implications of a right to privacy (with the associated “right to be forgotten” as
proposed by Commissioner Reding for Justice, Fundamental rights and Citizenship.) would have
made the project more successful. A similar problem has occurred with the introduction of
smart-meters to be installed in private homes to allow for actual monitoring of energy use. As it
became clear, that third parties (e.g. possible thieves) would be able to identify the presence of
people in their homes, the authorities had to give up the idea of a mandatory introduction.
Policy Pull
A strong policy pull has catalysed the introduction of security technologies, such as the use of
biometrics for passports, asylum applications and whole body image technology ("body
scanners") at airports. Politicians and policy makers have been eager to accept and promote the
implementation of these technologies, sometimes beyond their technical feasibility.
The introduction of the body scanner was discussed fully and consensually within technical
advisory committees and within European policy. There seemed to have been no doubt about the
reasonableness of its introduction until the German Supreme Court of Justice ruled the
introduction as being disproportional to its ends. The European Parliament, which had already
ordered the body scanner for use on its premises, cancelled its implementation
. The
introduction of the body scanner seemed to be incident-driven, after a terrorist managed to board
a flight to Chicago from Amsterdam airport late 2009. More recently, after the wide introduction
Bräutigam, Tobias, “PIA: Cornerstone of Privacy Compliance at Nokia”, in David Wright and Paul De
Hert, Privacy Impact Assessment, Springer, Dordrecht, 2012, p. 263
See E.Mordini "Policy brief on Whole body Image technology" in: Rene von Schomberg (2011) (ed.)
Towards Responsible Research and Innovation in the Information and Communication Technologies and
Security Technologies Fields.
of the body scanner at airports in the US, the device has come under attack, as it apparently does
not deliver the substantial security gain, or worse can introduce new security threats. The
introduction of body scanner at airports in Europe was eventually approved by the European
Parliament in 2011, however with substantial requirements: there is no mandatory use for
passengers, the body scanner does not make pictures, but rather representations of the body and
the representations are not stored. Such requirements could have been anticipated much earlier, if
the technology had been guided by proper technology assessments and public scrutiny.
The general assessment problem in this case was how to judge the proportionality of the
introduction of this type of technology. The European Commission must deliver general impact
assessments on all its major legislative proposals within the framework for better regulation
(European Communities, 2006).
The Commission impact assessment follows an integrated approach which was introduced in
2002 (European Communities, 2006). These impact assessments include among others, social,
environmental and economic impacts. Thus directives and regulations related to the introduction
of security technologies such as biometrics have been subject to such an assessment. Such an
analysis should identify whether particular measures, or potential infringement of privacy and
data protection, are proportional, and constitute legitimate objection against implementing
security technologies. However, the determination of proportionality cannot be fully left to legal
experts. One would need to assume normative baselines for acceptable risks or acceptable
infringements of privacy rights. These baselines are essentially political and not defined in
legislation. Therefore, the baseline should be subject to public debate. As a consequence we find
in the EU diverging practices concerning security technologies: biometrics for example is
allowed in the Netherlands, for people to enter into public swimming pools, whereas in France it
is prohibited. In the Netherlands, biometric passports have been introduced whereby the data are
stored in a central data base (this is found to be disproportional in most other Member States of
the EU). The risk of failure of biometric estimated by technicians (1 in many millions) has
translated in practice to 1 out of 5 passports not being read correctly.
Lack of precautionary measures and technology foresight
The report "Late lessons from early warning" (European Environmental Agency, 2002) gives an
impressive account of 12 cases, such as benzene, PCBs, hormones as growth promoters and
asbestos, the latter for which the European death toll alone is estimated to become 400 000. I
will not here elaborate in too much detail on the negative (anticipated or not) consequences of
innovation as they are well described by many others, including those in that particular report.
Nonetheless, a framework for RRI needs to address these consequences, as well as build on the
work of these authors. The lessons learned from these 12 cases mainly relate to decision making
under scientific uncertainty and scientific ignorance. However, it also relates to the benefits of
innovation by making the appeal to" promote more robust, diverse and adaptable technologies so
as to minimise the costs of surprises and maximise the benefits of innovation" (European
Environmental Agency, 2002). The authors of the report make the case for channelling
innovation into alternative routes, for which for example, the cases of asbestos and halocarbons
provide forceful illustrations. Rather than a constraint, the precautionary principle can thus
provide an incentive to open up alternative research and development trajectories.
6. A framework for Responsible Research and Innovation
The following definition for Responsible Research and Innovation is proposed:
Definition: Responsible Research and Innovation is a transparent, interactive process by which
societal actors and innovators become mutually responsive to each other with a view to the
(ethical) acceptability, sustainability and societal desirability of the innovation process and its
marketable products( in order to allow a proper embedding of scientific and technological
advances in our society).
There is a significant time lag (this can be several decades) between the occurrence of technical
inventions (or planned promising research) and the eventual marketing of products resulting
from RTD and innovation processes. The societal impacts of scientific and technological
advances are difficult to predict. Even major technological advances such as the use of the
internet and the partial failure of the introduction of GMOs in Europe have not been anticipated
by governing bodies. Early societal intervention in the Research and Innovation process can
help avoid technologies failing to embed in society and / or help that their positive and negative
impacts are better governed and exploited at a much earlier stage. Two interrelated dimensions
can be identified: the product dimension, capturing products in terms of overarching and specific
normative anchor points (see discussion above) and a process dimension reflecting a deliberative
The normative anchor points should be reflected in the product dimension. They should be:
(Ethically) acceptable: in an EU context this refers to a mandatory compliance with the
fundamental values of the EU charter on fundamental rights [right for privacy etc.] and the safety
protection level set by the EU. This may sound obvious, but the practice of implementing ICT
technologies has already demonstrated in various cases that the fundamental right for privacy
and data protection can and has been neglected. It also refers to the “safety” of products in terms
of acceptable risks. It goes without saying that ongoing risk assessments are part of the
procedure towards acceptable products when safety issues are concerned. However, the issue of
safety should be taken in a broader perspective. The United Kingdom's largest public funder of
basic innovation research, the Engineering and Physical Science and Research Council asked
applicants to report the wider implications and potential risk (environmental, health, societal and
ethical) associated with their proposed research in the area of nanosciences (Owen and Goldberg
2010). This highlighted the fact that, often, the risks related to new technologies, can neither be
quantified nor a normative baseline of acceptability assumed by scientists (acknowledging that
any, particular baseline cannot be assumed to represent the baseline of societal acceptance).
-Sustainable: contributing to the EU's objective of sustainable development. The EU follows the
1997 UN “definition” of sustainable development, consisting of economic, social and
environmental dimensions in mutual dependency. This overarching anchor point can become
further materialized under the following one:
- Socially desirable: "socially desirable" captures the relevant, and more specific normative
anchor points of the Treaty on the European Union, such as "Quality of life", "Equality among
men and women" etc.(see above). It has to be noted that a systematic inclusion of these anchor
points in product development and evaluation would clearly go beyond simple market
profitability, although the latter could be a precondition for the products' viability in market
competitive economies. However, it would be consistent with the EU treaty to promote such
product development through the financing of research and development actions. In other words,
at this point, Responsible Research and Innovation would not need any new policy guidelines,
but simply would require a consistent application of the EU's fundamentals to the research and
innovation process reflected in the Treaty on the European Union. Perhaps it has been wrongly
assumed that these values could not be considered in the context of research and innovation.
Since the Lund Declaration, a process to take into account societal objectives in the form of
addressing Grand Challenges has been set in motion.
Responsible Research and Innovation features both a product and process dimension:
Product dimension:
Products be evaluated and designed with a view to their normative anchor points: high level of
protection to the environment and human health, sustainability, and societal desirability.
Process dimension
The challenge here is to arrive at a more responsive, adaptive and integrated management of the
innovation process. A multidisciplinary approach with the involvement of stakeholders and other
interested parties should lead to an inclusive innovation process whereby technical innovators
become responsive to societal needs and societal actors become co-responsible for the innovation
process by a constructive input in terms of defining societal desirable products. The product and
process dimension are naturally interrelated. Implementation is enabled by five mechanisms:
technology assessment and foresight, application of the precautionary principle, normative /
ethical principles to design technology, innovation governance and stakeholder involvement and
public engagement.
Table 1(see after references, end of the text), provides a matrix which describes examples of lead
questions to be answered by the stakeholder either from a product or process perspective in order
to fully implement an RRI scheme (the lead questions with the same colour, represent the
alternative emphasis on either the product or process dimension).
1. Use of Technology Assessment and Technology Foresight. This is done in order to anticipate
positive and negative impacts or, whenever possible, define desirable impacts of research and
innovation both in terms of impact on consumers and communities. Setting of research priorities
and their anticipated impacts needs to be subject to a societal review. This implies broadening
the review of research proposals beyond scientific excellence and including societal impacts
Specific Technology Assessment methods also help to identify societal desirable products by
addressing the normative anchor points throughout their development. Methodologies to further
"script" the future expected impacts of research should be developed (Den Boer, Rip and Speller,
2009). A good example exists in the field of synthetic biology by Marc Bedau et al. (2009). They
have identified six key checkpoints in protocell development (e.g. cells produced from non-
living components by means of synthetic biology) in which particular attention should be given
to specific ethical, social and regulatory issues, and made ten recommendations for responsible
protocell science that are tied to the achievement of these checkpoints.
Technology Assessment and Technology Foresight can reduce the human cost of trial and error
and take advantage of a societal learning process of stakeholders and technical innovators. It
creates a possibility for anticipatory governance. This should ultimately lead to products which
are (more) societal robust.
2. Application of Precautionary Principle
The precautionary principle is embedded in EU law and applies especially within EU product
authorization procedures (e.g. REACH, GMO directives etc.). The precautionary principle
works as an incentive to make safe and sustainable products and allows governmental bodies to
The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) has developed a research funding
programme on Responsible Innovation under which research proposals are subject to a review in terms of
societal relevance. See:
intervene with risk management decisions (such as temporary licensing, case by case decision
making etc.) whenever necessary, in order to avoid negative impacts.
The responsible development of new technologies must be viewed in its historical context. Some
governance principles have been inherited from previous cases: this is particularly notable for the
application of the precautionary principle to new fields such as that of nanosciences and
nanotechnologies. The precautionary principle is firmly embedded in European policy, and is
enshrined in the 1992 Maastricht Treaty as one of the three principles upon which all
environmental policy is based. It has been progressively applied to other fields of policy,
including food safety, trade and research.
The principle runs through legislation for example in the ‘No data, no market’ principle of the
REACH directive for chemical substances, or the pre-market reviews required by the Novel
Foods regulation as well as the directive on the deliberate release of GMOs into the environment.
More generally, within the context of the general principles and requirements of European food
law it is acknowledged that “scientific risk assessment alone cannot provide the full basis for risk
management decisions”(European Commission, 2002) leaving open the possibility of risk
management decision making partly based on ethical principles or particular consumer interests.
In the European Commission's Recommendation on a Code of Conduct for Nanosciences and
Nanotechnologies Research, the principle appears in the call for risk assessment before any
public funding of research (a strategy currently applied in the 7th Framework Programme for
research). Rather than stifling research and innovation, the precautionary principle acts within
the Code of Conduct as a focus for action, in that it calls for funding for the development of risk
methodologies, the execution of risk research, and the active identification of knowledge gaps.
3. Innovation governance
a. Multistakeholder involvement
Multistakeholder involment in RRI- projects should bring together actors from industry, civil
society and research to jointly define an implementation plan for the responsible development of
a particular product to be developed within a specific research/innovation field, such as
information and communication technology or nanotechnology. Responsible innovation should
be materialised in terms of the research and innovation process as well as in terms of (product)
outcomes. The advantage is that actors cannot exclusively focus on particular aspects (for
instance, civil society organizations addressing only the risk aspects) but have to take a position
on all aspects of innovation process as such. Thus allowing a process to go beyond risk
governance and move to innovation governance. The company BASF, for example, has
established a dialogue forum with civil society organizations and also developed a code of
conduct for the development of new products
b. Use of codes of conduct
Codes of Conduct, in contrast to regulatory interventions, allow a constructive steering of the
innovation process. They enable the establishment of a proactive scientific community which
identifies and reports to public authorities on risks and benefits at an early stage. Codes of
Conduct are particular useful when risks are uncertain and when there is uncertain ground for
legislative action (nanotechnology for example). Codes of Conduct also help to identify
knowledge gaps and direct research funds towards societal objectives.
Policy development treads a fine line: governments should not make the mistake of responding
too early to a technology, and failing to adequately address its nature, or of acting too late, and
thereby missing the opportunity to intervene. A good governance approach, then, might be one
which allows flexibility in responding to new developments (Owen et al, this volume). After a
regulatory review in 2008, the European Commission came to the conclusion that there is no
immediate need for new legislation on nanotechnology, and that adequate responses can be
developed especially with regard to risk assessment by adapting existing legislation.
In the BASF Dialogueforum Nano representatives of environmental and consumer organisations, trade
unions, scientific institutes and churches (Civil Society Organisations / Non Governmental Organisations)
work together with employees of the chemical company BASF SE on various issues related to the subject
of nanotechnologies. See for a recent report:
In the absence of a clear consensus on definitions, the preparation of new nano-specific measures
will be difficult and although there continues to be significant scientific uncertainty on the nature
of the risks involved, good governance will have to go beyond policy making that focuses only
on legislative action. The power of governments is arguably limited by their dependence on the
insights and cooperation of societal actors when it comes to the governance of new technologies:
the development of a code of conduct, then, is one of their few options for intervening in a timely
and responsible manner. The European Commission states in the second implementation report
on the action plan for Nanotechnologies that “its effective implementation requires an efficient
structure and coordination, and regular consultation with the Member States and all
stakeholders” (Commission of the European Communities, 2009).Similarly, legislators are
dependent on scientists’ proactive involvement in communicating possible risks of
nanomaterials, and must steer clear of any legislative actions which might restrict scientific
communication and reporting on risk. The ideal is a situation in which all the actors involved
communicate and collaborate. The philosophy behind the European Commission’s code of
conduct, then, is precisely to support and promote active and inclusive governance and
communication. It assigns responsibilities to actors beyond governments, and promotes these
actors’ active involvement against the backdrop of a set of basic and widely shared principles of
governance and ethics. Through codes of conduct, governments can allocate tasks and roles to all
actors involved in technological development, thereby organising collective responsibility for the
field (Von Schomberg, 2007). Similarly, Mantovani and Porcari (2010) propose a governance
plan which both makes use of existing governance structures and suggests new ones, as well as
proposing how they should relate to each other.
The European Commission recommendation on a Code of Conduct views Member States of the
European Union as responsible actors, and invites them to use the Code as an instrument to
encourage dialogue amongst “policy makers, researchers, industry, ethics committees, civil
society organisations and society at large”(recommendation number 8 to Member States, cited on
page 6 of the Commission’s recommendation) , as well as to share experiences and to review the
Code at European level on a biannual basis. It should be considered that such Codes of Conduct
would in the future extend their scope beyond research and also address the innovation process.
c. Adoption of standards, certification and self-regulation
The adoption of standards and even "definitions" are fundamental requirements to allow for
responsible development. The outstanding adoption of a definition for nanoparticles, for example
makes legislation and adequate labelling practices difficult, if not impossible. Bush (2010) notes
that the use of standards, certifications and accreditations constitute a new form of governance
which progressively has replaced and transmuted positive law, as a product of the state, with its
market equivalent. Although this form of governance is in need of improvement, we unavoidably
have to make productive use of it, as the flood of products and processes coming on to the
market will not be manageable through governmental bodies and agencies alone. Yet, the
perception and working practice of these standards is significant. In 2005, it was claimed that the
EU had forced local authorities to remove see-saws from children’s playgrounds. No such EU
measures were taken. Some standards were set by the European Committee for Standardisation
(CEN), a voluntary organisation made of national standards bodies. CEN sought to limit the
height from which children could fall, by specifying the maximum height for seats and stands,
and by setting standards for hand supports and footrests. Manufacturers could choose to follow
these standards, which carried the advantage of being able to export across Europe, instead of
having to apply for certification in each country (European Communities, 2006).
The area of data- and privacy protection in the context of the use of ICT and security
technologies should also be impacted by forms of self-regulation and standard setting. Data
controllers based at operators need to provide accountability, which can be termed as a form of
verifiable responsibility (Guagnin, Hempel and Ilten, 2011). The involvement of third parties
which can implement, minimally, a transparent verification practice will be crucial. In other
fields, the whole certification can be carried out by a third party. For example, in 1996, the
The European Project NANOCODE makes this point concerning nanosciences and nanotechnologies,
World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Unilever joined forces and collectively constructed a long-
term programme for sustainable fisheries. They founded an independent non-profit organisation
to foster worldwide fisheries. They also apply “standards of Sustainable Fishing”, which is also
monitored by independent certifying agencies to control those standards.
Standards will also need to reflect particular ethical considerations and go well beyond mere
technical safety issues. Currently, the development of new ISO standards for Nanofood might
involve the inclusion of ethical standards (Forsberg, 2010).
4. Ethics as a "Design" factor of Technology and increasing social-ethical reflexivity in research
Ethics should not be seen as being only a constraint of technological advances. Incorporating
ethical principles in the design process of technology can lead to well accepted technological
advances. As discussed above, in Europe, the employment of Body Imaging Technology at
Airports has for example raised constitutional concerns in Germany. It has been questioned
whether the introduction is proportional to the objectives being pursued. The introduction of a
"smart meter" at the homes of people in the Netherlands to allow for detection of and
optimisation of energy use, was rejected on privacy grounds, as it might have allowed third
parties to monitor whether people are actually in their homes. These concerns could have been
avoided if societal actors had been involved in the design of technology early on. "Privacy by
design" has become a good counter example in the field of ICT, by which technology is designed
with a view to taking privacy into account as a design principle of the technology itself. Yet,
practicing it is still rare. The European project ETICA
has recommended the introduction of
specific governance structures for emerging (ICT) technologies in this regard.
Recently "Midstream Modulation"(Fisher et al., 2006; Fisher, 2007, Fisher and Rip, this volume)
has emerged as a promising approach to increase social-ethical reflexivity within research
practices. In the form of laboratory engagement practices, social scientists and ethicists are
embedded in research teams of natural scientists. The embedded social scientist engages natural
scientists in the wider impact of their work, while doing research in the laboratories. Reports
from these practices could feed into schemes on responsible research and innovation.
5. Deliberative mechanisms for allowing feedback with policymakers: devising models for
responsible governance and public engagement/public debate
Continuous feedback from information generated in Technology Assessment, Technology
Foresight and demonstration projects to policy makers could allow for a productive innovation
cycle. Knowledge assessment procedures should be developed in order to allow assessment of
the quality of information within the policy process, especially in areas in which scientific
assessments contradict each other or in the case of serious knowledge gaps. (The EC practises
this partly with its impact assessments for legislative actions). Knowledge assessment could
integrate distinct approaches of cost-benefit analysis and environmental and sustainability impact
assessments. In short: models of responsible governance should be devised which allocate roles
of responsibility to all actors involved in the innovation process. Ideally, this should lead to a
situation in which actors can resolve conflicts and go beyond their traditional roles: companies
addressing the benefits and Non-Governmental Organisations the risks. Co-responsibility implies
here that actors have to become mutually responsive, thus companies adopting a perspective
going beyond immediate market competiveness and NGOs reflecting on the constructive role of
new technologies for sustainable product development. In this context, Technology Assessment,
as practised, for example, by the Dutch Rathenau Institute, can take up the function of "seducing
actors to get involved and act"(Van Est, 2010)."
On-going public debate and monitoring of public opinion is needed for the legitimacy of research
funding and particular scientific and technological advances. Continuous public platforms should
replace one-off public engagement activities (Sykes and Macnaghten, this volume) with a
particular technology and, ideally, a link with the policy process should be established. The
function of public debate in viable democracies includes enabling policy makers to exercise
agenda and priority setting. Public debate, ideally, should have a moderating impact on
"Technology Push" and "Policy Pull" of new technologies which sometime unavoidably may
7. Outlook
Responsible Research and Innovation need to be addressed by various actors and institutions.
Institutionally some progress in under way at the level of programmes of Research Councils. As
an positive counterexample to the "You cut" initiative of the American senator a noteworthy
experiment with which, through a process of public deliberation, reflected on the purposes of
research and used this reflection to frame a research funding call in the area of nanotechnology
for medicine and healthcare (Jones, 2008). The public dialogues provided a clear steer about the
relative priorities of six potential application areas of nanotechnology for healthcare, informing
and shaping the nature of the funding call itself, such that it could respond better to social values
(for more detail see Sykes and Macnaghten, this volume). One can imagine further initiatives to
have citizens shape calls for research proposals.
The most crucial advancement of RRI will be dependent on the willingness of stakeholders to
work together toward social desirable products. Up till now, the examples of industry-NGO
cooperation has been primarily limited to addressing the risks, e.g. the negative aspects of
products. Under the European 7th Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, the 2013
Science in Society Workprogramme provides an opportunity for a "demonstration project"
incentivizing actors from industry, civil society and research institutions to "jointly define an
implementation plan for the responsible development of a particular product to be developed
within a specific research and innovation field". Responsible Research and Innovation should be
shown in terms of the product development process (such as stakeholder involvement, etc.) and
the quality of the final product (complying with, among other standards, those relating to
sustainability and ethics).
Furthermore, further institutionalizations of technology foresight and technology assessments are
necessary within the legislative process. At the European level, now impact assessments have
been made mandatory, an opportunity arises to make better and systematic use of assessments. I
have argued that we have to go beyond assessing research and innovation beyond their economic
impacts. Bozeman and Sarewitz (2011) have proposed a framework for a new approach to
assessing the capacity of research programs to achieve social goals. The further development of
such frameworks are badly needed as the promises of scientist to address social objectives
(regularly leading to a "hype" and corresponding increased levels of research funding) while
developing their research is often sharply contrasted with the actual outcomes.
Internationally, a global perspective needs to be developed. Diverging ethical standards at the
international level and "ethics-free" zones pose challenges to the introduction of RRI at the
global level. Ozolina et al (2012) have recently addressed the challenges RRI faces at the global
level and advocate to advance an international framework for RRI by means of multilateral
All these initiatives may well help us to address socio-economic concerns around research and
innovation processes, without formally introducing a fourth hurdle. Instead of a "hurdle", RRI
should become a research and innovation 'design' strategy which drives innovation and gives
some "steer" towards achieving societal desirable goals.
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Table1 : Responsible Research and Innovation Matrix
on of the
hical principles
to design
e and
Assessment and
nt of
to cope
with risks
Which design
objectives to
t in
and TA
How to
Application of the
n of nature
of risks
Choice and
development of
lity: how
How safe
is safe
principles to
design technology
and “safety”
by design
Setting of
to choose?
ies for
governance models
and stakeholder
scope and
y for
ht by
principles in
How can
n be
Engagement and
Public Debate
oice of
y for public
Setting of
Setting of social
desirability of
RRI outcome
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This article clarifies what is meant by “social studies of the future” and shows the kind of contributions they can make to the sciences and technologies. To this end, two additional concepts complement the discussion: those of interdisciplinarity and responsible research. We seek to demonstrate that it is important to create bridges between the various disciplines, in order to promote knowledge that help societies to deal with the future. It is argued that SSF can make a difference in promoting science that improves the quality of life and achieving the goals of inclusion and sustainability. From this perspective, we will underscore the relevance of interchanging knowledge through interdisciplinarity, as a strategy of governing the science and technology of the future.
With the growth of commercial and recreational use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, or drones), there is increasing attention to the need for regulation. A systematic review is conducted using a multiple comparative perspective: across three political jurisdictions (the United States, the European Union, and Japan) and across two areas of societal implication and policy (privacy and safety), with additional comparisons drawn from regulations for related cyber-physical systems. The multiple comparative analysis conducted in this paper shows that safety is a much more salient concern than privacy. Moreover, safety is focused on technical features of the UAVs, registration and certification, and differentiation by use case. Privacy regulations tend to follow broader digital privacy guidelines. Although there are some privacy rules that are UAV-specific, many of them do not yet directly address privacy challenges that are specific for UAVs. Additional comparisons with safety and privacy policies for automated vehicles and the smart grid reveal areas of potential development for harmonization and policy guidance. The study concludes with ten recommendations for future policy development.
Within STS, there are three approaches to the creation and mobilization of futures: descriptive, normative, and interventive. Visions, expectations, and imaginaries are currently seen as anticipatory artifacts that close down the momentum of sociotechnical systems and, as such, are objects of critical scrutiny. At the same time, interventive techniques engaging with future representations are considered to be useful anticipatory instruments for opening up ranges of envisaged alternatives. This article reviews STS advances concerning the performativity of both de facto and interventive anticipatory practices in shaping the momentum of sociotechnical systems in light of the phenomenon of modal power: the modulation dynamics of what actors deem to be (im)plausible and/or (un)desirable. The diverse attempts of STS scholars and practitioners to understand, critique, and engage with the politics of opening up and closing down the momentum of sociotechnical systems require engaging with the creation, mobilization, and execution of modal power. The heuristics presented here are intended to be useful in framing and recognizing the political-epistemic radicality that the creation and mobilization of sociotechnical futures holds in the constitution of our sociotechnical orders as well as the role that the attribution of (im)plausibility or (un)desirability plays in such processes.
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In the last decade, the European Commission (EC) developed an ambitious strategy to promote RRI across the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (H2020). This effort resulted in a significant number of European-funded projects that substantially expanded the available knowledge of the theory, methods and implementation of RRI. However, various evaluations and studies revealed a limited and diffuse implementation of the concept. In this article, we aim to shed some light on this matter with a study covering eight programme lines of H2020 (ERC, MSCA, LEIT, FOOD, ENV, SEC, WIDENING and EURATOM). We employ an extensive policy document analysis and 112 semi-structured interviews carried out with various stakeholders. We argue that the limited implementation of RRI in H2020 is the result of conflicts with existing values, science cultures, economic objectives, restricted resources for its implementation and a lack of clarification around what RRI means.
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The growing number of papers on Responsible Innovation (RI) and Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) have shaped the popularity and usefulness of RI and RRI as a technology governance concept. This study reviews and assesses the development of RRI research through a bibliometric analysis of 702 RRI-focused papers and 26,471 secondary references published in the Web of Science Core Collection database between 2006 and 2020. Firstly, the paper provides a broad outline of the field based on annual growth trends, journal distribution, and disciplinary distribution for RRI publications. Secondly, this study reveals the current state of RRI research by identifying influential literature, journals, authors, countries, and institutions. Thirdly, a phased keyword analysis is conducted to determine the stage characteristics of the RRI field. Finally, based on the bibliometric analyses, this study summarises the evolutionary trajectory of RRI and makes recommendations for future research directions. As a complement to the previous qualitative literature review, the paper provides a systematic and dynamic understanding of RRI research.
Background: Achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is beyond the capacity of any single organisation. The model for Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) includes principles of engaging stakeholders and suggests that an engaged, multi-sectoral approach hold promise to mobilise humanity to solve complex and urgent global issues. Methods: This scoping review explores the characteristics of effective and sustainable inter-organisational networks for fostering RRI in service of the SDGs. An inductive-deductive search of prior studies (1990-2020), with the exception of Benson’s (1975) seminal work was conducted, which focused on strategies to initiate and maintain inter-organisational networks relevant to the implementation of RRI and/or SDGs. The search began with themes derived from prior network theory, focusing on: (a) the type and function of networks; (b) the aims and vision; and (c) the relationships between networks and network members. In total, 55 articles on inter-organisational network theory were included for the final analysis. Results: Results are reported under themes of: (1) Effectiveness, Sustainability, and Success; (2) Governance and Management; and (3) Network Relationship. Network structures, forms of management and funding are linked to sustainable networks. Potential threats include power imbalances within networks, and internal and external factors that may affect relationships at network and community levels. Few studies examine diversity or cultural viewpoints. Studies highlight the benefits of networks such as enhancing knowledge sharing among researchers, practitioners, and other stakeholders. Conclusions: The effectiveness of the managerial structure may be observed as outputs of the intention and values of an inter-organisational network. Our review demonstrates that a global inter-organisational network approach is achievable. Such a network would have many benefits, including allowing organisations to be responsive and flexible towards change and innovation. Keywords RRI, SDGs, network theory, inter-organisational networks, governance, trust
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Autonomous Vehicles (AVs) collect a vast amount of data during their operation (MBs/sec). What data is recorded, who has access to it, and how it is analysed and used can have major technical, ethical, social, and legal implications. By embedding Responsible Innovation (RI) methods within the AV lifecycle, negative consequences resulting from inadequate data logging can be foreseen and prevented. An RI approach demands that questions of societal benefit, anticipatory governance, and stakeholder inclusion, are placed at the forefront of research considerations. Considered as foundational principles, these concepts create a contextual mindset for research that will by definition have an RI underpinning as well as application. Such an RI mindset both inspired and governed the genesis and operation of a research project on autonomous vehicles. The impact this had on research outlines and workplans, and the challenges encountered along the way are detailed, with conclusions and recommendations for RI in practice.
Scientific responsibility has changed with the successful professionalization of science. Today, science is a privileged profession, one with a (tacit) management mandate for systematic knowledge acquisition. Within this framework, science acts with responsibility. This chapter reflects the responsibility of science in the German context. After Wold War 2, the extraordinary responsibility of scientists, which C.F. von Weizsäcker emphasized, referred to a specific phase in the institutional development of science, termed scientism (“science justifies society,” science as religion), and corresponded to an elite responsibility. Today, one responsibility of science as a profession is to safeguard and develop scientific standards. This also concerns, on the one hand, the self-organization and control of science as a profession and, on the other hand, the communication of science to society. As a professional scientist, one has two responsibilities, the commitments to good science (professional ethics plus co-responsibility for the development of science as a profession) and civic responsibility. Due to their special knowledge, the civic responsibility of the scientist differs from that of other professionals. This chapter introduces science as a profession and presents an integrative notion of responsibility, also shedding light on the social responsibility of science.
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This chapter discusses some of the most pertinent of the interlinked questions with reference to information and communication technologies (ICT). The chapter starts with a brief discussion of concepts of responsibility and responsible innovation that allows the identification of important aspects that a responsible approach to ICT requires. It then builds a "Framework for Responsible Research and Innovation in Information and Communication technology" (FRRIICT) by discussing two different approaches to responsible (research and) innovation" (RRI), as represented by the two projects. This leads to a discussion of further research, as well as policy requirements that need to be addressed in order for research and development in ICT to live up to the expectations of responsibility.
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I provide a vision and definition of Responsible Research and Innovation and propose a broad framework for its implementation under Research and Innovation schemes around the world. I make the case that RRI should be understood as a strategy of stakeholders to become mutual responsive to each other and anticipate research and innovation outcomes underpinning the "grand challenges" of our time for which they share responsibility. Research and Innovation processes need to become more responsive and adaptive to these grand challenges. This implies, among other, the introduction of broader foresight and impact assessments for new technologies beyond their anticipated market-benefits and risks. Social benefits of new technologies need to take into account widely shared public values. This implies a paradigm shift in innovation policy, moving away from an emphasis on key technologies towards issue and mission oriented policies. Background information can be found on:
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Public “upstream engagement” and other approaches to the social control of technology are currently receiving international attention in policy discourses around emerging technologies such as nanotechnology. To the extent that such approaches hold implications for research and development (R&D) activities, the distinct participation of scientists and engineers is required. The capacity of technoscientists to broaden the influences on R&D activities, however, implies that they conduct R&D differently. This article discusses the possibility for more reflexive participation by scientists and engineers in the internal governance of technology development. It reviews various historical attempts to govern technoscience and introduces the concept of midstream modulation, through which scientists and engineers, ideally in concert with others, bring societal considerations to bear on their work.
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This publication, introduced and edited by René von Schomberg, consists of a series of research articles reflecting on how to proceed towards Responsible Research and Innovation in the Information and Communication Technologies and Security Technology fields. The authors who contributed to this publication are coordinators or participants to major FP7 projects funded under the Science in Society Programme. A total of 10 projects have inspired the authors to reflect and address various governance and ethics issues underlying the responsible development of these new technologies. A deliberative approach to the responsible development of these technologies implies inclusive governance, based on broad stakeholder involvement, public debate and early societal intervention in research and innovation,among other, by means of ethics assessments and various technology and privacy impact assessments.
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This working document of the services of the European Commission of which Dr. Rene von Schomberg is the author, reflects upon the difficulties of developing ethical frameworks for (new) technologies in the context of an ethics of responsibility. The principle shortcomings of contemporary ethical theory with regard to the challenges of scientific and technological development are discussed. A case is made for the need of an ethics of collective co-responsibility. Such an ethics should focus on the ethics of knowledge assessment and knowledge policy in the framework of deliberative procedures, rather than on the ethics of technologies as such. Furthermore, the document tries to identify the deliberative procedures and processes in the science-society interface in which ethical issues concerning new technologies are discussed. The documents ends with a preliminary and descriptive overview of how currently the issue of nanotechnology is addressed in deliberative frameworks at the European Level.
Nokia designs, operates, manufactures and sells mobile telephones, smart phones and online services. With a market share of around 35 per cent, Nokia is the market leader in mobile phones and has customers in virtually every country on Earth. Millions of customers will gain Internet access for the first time in their life by using a Nokia phone.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) has stressed the need to explore the possibility of creating a connection between scientific research work and their effects on society. Researchers and their tax-supported underwriters require to analyze the implications of decision making on supporting scientific research work. Education and public outreach (EPO) professionals should be hired to facilitate education activities for scientists, who are trained in science, not in education. This approach would allows scientists to conduct their research work on their own while the EPO professionals take care of education. NSF also stresses to include an EPO professional and a researcher on science as individual reviewers of proposals and as members of review panels to encourage use of effects of scientific research on society. Interaction among researchers from different field will encourage scientists and engineers to more concerned with the broader effects of their research on society.
In the article I present the results of a case study of the authorisation of a GMO potato in the European Union. It was the first authorisation for cultivation for more than a decade and was so controversial that it was immediately followed by Commission's own proposal for change of the regulatory regime. The case is exemplary for the relationships between scientific expertise and administrative regulation. It was expected that by limiting the scope of facts relevant for the decision to "science-only," the authorisations will be placed on firm objective grounds and the political controversies will be reduced. The main conclusion from my study is that the opposite happens - when expertise is so overtaxed science gets politicised while the exclusion of socio-economic factors delegitimises the regime as a whole.In the end I suggest that in order to avoid such tensions instead of drawing boundaries between science and democracy briges between them should be build so that all considerations which are relevant for different stakeholders shall be included in a broad overarching deliberative space.