News and Views
UCC to host European Conference on Technology Assessment
A conference will kick off at UCC tomorrow (May 17 - 19), aiming to discuss how best to connect policymakers, science and society in making decisions on the direction of technological innovation.
The European Conference on Technology Assessment will cover topics including technology and the changing work environment, digital heath data, social-technical transitions of energy and transport infrastructures and genetic tests during pregnancy.
According to UCC’s Dr Ciara Fitzgerald, conference chair, “society looks to science and technology when confronted with challenges such as ageing society and sustainable consumption; however, not all change is perceived by all stakeholders to be positive.”
“We are confronted with technological challenges with far-reaching and often unpredictable impacts: cyber-attacks, genetically modified crops, genetic tests and so on all provide striking examples of the need to have access to well-balanced debates pertaining to the social acceptability of scientific knowledge to underpin evidence-based decision making.
Science, technology and innovation-related policy decisions are one area where transforming institutions and processes have the potential to deliver or contribute to the delivery of considerable benefits, Dr Fitzgerald believes.
With an increased emphasis on innovation and considering the driving forces behind knowledge-based economies, governments and policy makers face a proliferation of technological challenges with far-reaching and often unpredictable impacts as well as growing debates involving a cacophony of voices often promoting contradictory arguments. “This gives rise to problems of competency for decision makers who must decide on policies and programs related to the results of technological advances and innovation.”
What can make decisions on science and technology particularly complex and controversial is that such decisions affect the social, moral and ecological fabric of society both today and into the future; and decisions about science policy ought to be guided by well-founded warrants often relying on scientific arguments and analysis of data utilising advanced technologies and scientific results, Dr Fitzgerald said. “As the number of science and technology interest groups grows, we urgently need unbiased and balanced advice and projections on the implications of scientific and technological adoption.”
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The conference offers a platform for researchers to discuss these questions together with practitioners and policymakers from around the world. Business Information Systems in the Cork University Business School, together with an international steering committee of experts, have designed three days of discussions, presentations, exchanges, networking and exploration.
Scientists are invited to present and discuss their interdisciplinary research. This will be followed by an interactive dialogue between scientific scholars, stakeholders, policymakers and the audience over three days in UCC.