Towards responsible innovations in nanotechnology

We are very happy to welcome Professor Andoni Ibarra to c:o/re. Andoni Ibarra is Professor of Philosophy of Science at the University of the Basque Country and last week his fellowship at our Center started. His research focuses on questions and conditions of governance, particularly in regard to responsible innovation. In the coming twelve months, he will be working, in close cooperation with RWTH’s Human Technology Center (HumTec), on the project “Open anticipatory governance of innovation. Opportunities and barriers for a radical responsible culture of research in emerging technologies”. Our colleague, PhD researcher Stefan John of the Living Labs Incubator will support this research program. Stefan graduated in Science and Technology Studies at the Technical University Munich in 2019. He gave us a glimpse into the basics of this project and where his interest in the topic stems from. Here is what he told us:

Stefan, why does the project “Open anticipatory governance of innovation” interest you in particular?

I became interested in the topic of governance and technology while working on my Master thesis on a Living Lab/Testbed at Munich Airport. As technology co-determines our daily lives, I am interested in how it gets created and by whom. The question of social responsibility and sustainability are important yet difficult to ask and assess. Hence I am delighted to support the research of this framework.

What is the rationale of Andoni Ibarra’s project and what do you expect as an outcome?

The starting point of this project is a specific perspective on research: it promotes an open anticipatory understanding of responsible research, according to which the collective problematization of the future states of a system is a basic condition for the consideration of possible alternatives for action. The goal is to develop a governance framework that contributes to the implementation and assessment of responsible anticipatory practices in research and innovation, which we consider with a focus on nanotechnologies.

And how are you going to test and implement such a governance framework?

By drawing from practical experience of nanotechnologists. In close collaboration with practisioners, we will analyze the opportunities and barriers/limits involved in the operationalization of open anticipatory governance. This will allow us to reflect on if and how collective deliberations on sociotechnical futures influence actual practices in the field of nanotechnology.

What is your task in this project and what are the next steps for you, Stefan?

As a researcher at RWTH Aachen University, I will help build a network of nanotechnologists at the university. We already had a meeting with various experts in this field which was very inspiring. My tasks at the moment consist in assessing the relevant literature and reaching out to researchers with practical experience in open anticipatory governance. The objective is to create a network of experts that will help us advance the state-of-the-art in the emerging technology of nanoscience and its problematization.

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