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Scientists' sense of social responsibility is particularly relevant for emerging technologies. Since a regulatory vacuum can sometimes occur in the early stages of these technologies, individual scientists' social responsibility might be one of the most significant checks on the risks and negative consequences of this scientific research. In this article, we analyze data from a 2011 mail survey of leading U.S. nanoscientists to explore their perceptions the regarding social and ethical responsibilities for their nanotechnology research. Our analyses show that leading U.S. nanoscientists express a moderate level of social responsibility about their research. Yet, they have a strong sense of ethical obligation to protect laboratory workers (in both universities and industry) from unhealthy exposure to nanomaterials. We also find that there are significant differences in scientists' sense of social and ethical responsibility depending on their demographic characteristics, job affiliation, attention to media content, risk perceptions and benefit perceptions. We conclude with some implications for future research.
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... The emergence of concerns about the human, animal, and environmental health and safety impacts of the emerging technology [17,18] led to the above language, as well as the inclusion of ethics experts in the most recent government-supported initiative to fund nanotechnology, the National Science Foundation (NSF)'s National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure, which in Fall 2015 announced 16 research facilities funded for a total of $81 million over five years [12]. As a result of such investment and prioritization, the past decade has witnessed a growing body of scholarship focused on exploring the ethical and societal issues of nanotechnology [19][20][21][22][23][24][25][26][27] and the creation in 2007 of an entire journal devoted to the subject, Nano Ethics. This emerging body of work suggests, among other things, that there are multiple levels at which scientists should engage with the social and ethical implications of their work [7,23,28]. ...
... The implication is that SEI is someone else's job, namely, of social scientists. Indeed, Corley [22] found that nanoscientists felt quite a lot of responsibility for ethical lab procedures and the protection of lab employees, but only a moderate level of responsibility outside of those realms. This was nearly a decade after Johnson [33] had advocated for the integration of nanoethics into the lab beyond the context of lab safety, arguing that SEIrelated Bideas have a better chance of being heard and influencing the direction of nanotechnology when they have a somewhat formal role in the development process^ [33]. ...
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In this project, we (1) explore perceptions of the social and ethical implications (SEI) of nanotechnology among US scientists who work at the nanoscale, and (2) develop and pilot test an online training module to foster consideration of social and ethical implications in the lab. To meet our first goal, we drew qualitative insights from open-ended survey data collected from scientists affiliated with the National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network. Our data suggest that while the survey participants responded positively to the idea that consideration of SEI should be a part of the work they do, there was confusion about whether SEI refers to lab safety, research integrity, or something more. This is something we sought to address in the online training module that we developed based on that qualitative data and on feedback collected from experts in nanoethics and lab management. We then pilot tested the module with undergraduate students studying nanotechnology in the National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program and with scientists registered to use a National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure-funded microelectronics research lab. The undergraduate data suggested that students appreciated the SEI training but wished professors and scientists would begin integrating the ideas therein into coursework and mentoring. The scientist data suggested that the module increased understanding of “social and ethical implications,” increased the perceived need to implement SEI into workplace routines, and, interestingly, heightened perceptions of risk associated with the scientists’ own work. The practical and theoretical implications of this work are discussed.
... The c o n c e q u e n c e s o f t h e s e i d e a s f o r R R I a r e then discussed. A number of previous studies have investigated whether nanoscientists believe that nanomaterials require regulation, and if so, what type of regulation [36][37][38][39]. We here ask the more fundamental question of whether the actors consider graphene to be a risk, which is a similar research question to that of Bertoldo et al. [40], Johansson and Boholm [41], and Powell [42] who, however, studied scientists' views of the risks of nanomaterials more generally. ...
... The question relevant for this paper was BDo you see any risks with graphene or in the manufacturing process?Ô ther questions were also asked during interviews but are not considered here. All in all, 15 people were interviewed, 12 males and 3 females, which reflects the current male bias among researchers active in the field of nanoscience [36][37][38][39]44]. ...
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Graphene is a nanomaterial with many promising and innovative applications, yet early studies indicate that graphene may pose risks to humans and the environment. According to ideas of responsible research and innovation, all relevant actors should strive to reduce risks related to technological innovations. Through semi-structured interviews, we investigated the idea of graphene as a risk (or not) held by two types of key actors: graphene researchers and innovation advisors at universities, where the latter are facilitating the movement of graphene from the laboratory to the marketplace. The most common idea found is that graphene is not a risk due to, e.g., low toxicity, low amounts produced/used, and its similarity to harmless materials (being “just carbon”). However, some researchers and advisors also say that graphene is a risk, e.g., under certain conditions or due to a lack of risk-related information. We explain the co-existence of these seemingly contradictory ideas through (1) the semantic ambiguity of the word risk and (2) a risk/no-risk rhetoric, where risks are mentioned rhetorically only to be disregarded as manageable or negligible. We suggest that some of the ideas held by the researchers and innovation advisors constitute a challenge to responsible research and innovation regarding graphene. At the same time, we acknowledge the dilemma that the discourse of responsible innovation creates for the actors: denying graphene risks makes them irresponsible due to a lack of risk awareness, while affirming graphene risks makes them irresponsible due to their everyday engagement in graphene development. We therefore recommend more research into what researchers and innovation advisors should do in practice in order to qualify as responsible.
... In this study, we aim to extend the discussion about ethical leadership in responsible innovation by defining ethical leadership as the de-authority of ethics; ethics for every stakeholder of an organization rather than a center-focused authority for central members of the organizations. Previous research on the ethical implications of technology has highly focused on quantifiable risks rather than responsibility in terms of social change (Corley, Kim, and Scheufele 2016;Mills and Fleddermann 2005;Lu et al. 2012;Toumey 2019). However, in a practical sense, ethics and responsible innovation should not be separated because responsibility in scientific outcomes unavoidably accompany ethical practices in research and organizational behaviors (van der Burg 2016). ...
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Ethical leadership is a key component of responsible research innovation within science organizations because it fosters democratic participation in ethical behaviors among the scientists conducting the research innovation. Although scholars agree with the importance of roles from scientists in improving the societal impacts of science organizations, little is known about scientists' understanding of their potential role as ethical leaders. To fill this gap, our current study analyzes qualitative data collected from 132 nanoscientists about their perceptions of ethics and ethical leadership in the workspace. Five types of ethical leadership were culled from open-ended data collected in the survey: Exemplar, Codifier, Visionary, Philosopher, and Communicator. These emergent leadership constructs suggest a starting point for researchers and administrators to develop a path forward for responsible research innovation training programs that can help scientists lead the members of their organizations toward making important linkages between the work they do and larger societal contexts.
... What concept might be associated with this term is never very clear" (p. 1). Studies of the ways in which scientists interpret responsibility and of how they try to make it "doable" have started to shed light on how it is being understood and put in practice in the context of specific technologies (Corley et al., 2016;Loroño-Leturiondo & Davies, 2018;McCarthy & Kelty, 2010). It remains unclear, however, how it is being communicated in the media and to lay audiences. ...
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... They had no drive to organize and they lacked expertise in political matters. However, over the past 50 years their journey has been focused, evolutionary, and revolutionary (Corley, Kim, & Scheufele, 2016;Kateb, 2017;Miller & Adams, 2015;Mulkay, 1976;Zucker & Darby, 1996). These "new intellectuals," through practical applications of science, technology, and the businesses they birthed, have become the revolutionary class, i.e., Bezos, Buterin, Gates, Jobs, Musk, Zuckerberg, etc. (Andrews & Wood, 2013;Borins & Herst, 2018). ...
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In her book, On Violence , Hannah Arendt addresses the events she was witness to in the 1960s. Arendt presents theories on violence through a historical context and explores the links between power, war, politics and violence. She informs the reader that power and violence are not the same; where one is absolute, the other cannot exist. Our research aim was to demonstrate how prescient her views were regarding the prognostication of the political animus that has occurred in America, especially through the evolution of technology. Our method in the the evaluation of this discourse was a line by line examination of the text of "On Violence" and assessing this evaluation against how the increasing attacks utilizing social platforms and cyber capabilities by U.S. competitors (foreign or domestic) are resulting in political vulnerability of the U.S. and the generally defined Western world. The public health security of American democracy is at risk through an inability, as individuals, to properly evaluate information, propaganda, misinformation, and disinformation from bad actors at home and abroad. Here we develop a perspective in which the political animus that started in the late 1960s becomes the foundation for our competitors’ development of sophisticated methods of cyber subversion, and effective use of asymmetric conflict through manipulation of our own social media platforms in order to divide Americans and subvert effective government.
... Yet we face fundamental problems in governing such emerging technologies. Green nanotechnology is now being developed as a way to make nanomaterials safer through rational design, but nanotechnologists do not uniformly recognize any obligation to attend to societal concerns and only limited obligations to address environmental health and safety issues (Corley, Kim, and Scheufele, 2015;Johansson and Boholm, 2017). ...
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People in contemporary industrial societies encounter countless novel materials that did not exist previously, many of which present risks to health and environment. In this article, we build on the concept of “materials sovereignty” as the right of people to use and be surrounded by environmentally benign, non-toxic, and renewing materials in their everyday lives. As a rights-based approach, materials sovereignty may help change the politics of governing materials. We suggest that social movements that explicitly base interventions into design on materials sovereignty may be better able to gain traction in changing industrial production. We consider the case of nanotechnology as a particularly challenging field for social movement intervention. We review several pathways that have been used by social movement organizations in attempts to influence the development of nanomaterials, but which have met with limited success. We more closely examine three participatory pathways through which social movements could intervene more directly into material design: participatory technology assessment, collaboration with industry, and co-design. We identify three key elements of materials sovereignty: participatory knowledge systems, which create multi-directional flows of knowledge and agency; the embedding of citizen voices into design processes; and building accountability systems. Of the pathways we examine here, co-design appears to be the most promising from a theoretical and ethical perspective, but there remain significant institutional and organizational challenges for bringing it into practice.
... Explicit calls for socio-technical integration in U.S. science policy have been periodically articulated (e.g., Dupree, 1986;Lasswell, 1956;Steelman, 1947;Wiener, 1960), often in connection with the notion of scientific responsibility (Corley et al., 2016), but historically they have had little if any impact on either policy or practice. For instance, in 1 Unstructured interviews were conducted with four former Congressional House Committee on Science staffers, one Congressional witness, several expert policy advisors and senior federal agency officials and a handful of members of professional associations and civil society organizations. ...
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Government regulations to address technological risks are important for the successful development and application of nanotechnology, but there is an ongoing debate in the USA about who is responsible for the regulation of nanotechnology. In a mail survey of leading US nano-scientists, we examine scientists' perceptions about nano-regulation, including the government level (local, national, or international) at which the scientists believe nanotechnology regulation should be implemented. This regulatory discussion is important because international regulations are often difficult to adopt and implement; yet, local or state-level regulations could lead to the nanotechnology equivalent of the pollution haven hypothesis. We conclude that leading US nano-scientists have varying perceptions about nanotechnology regulations with some scientists supporting local regulations, but most scientists supporting national-level or international-level regulations. Additionally, our results show the emergence of three distinct categories of nano-scientists that have unique perspectives on nano-regulation: 'cautious innovators', 'nano-regulators', and 'technology optimists'. Copyright The Author 2012. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com, Oxford University Press.