Towards Machine Ethics [article]

Oliver Bendel, Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz FHNW, Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz FHNW
Foreword Lars Klüver PACITA (Parliaments and Civil Society in Technology Assessment) is a so-called Mobilization and Mutual Learning Action Plan, financed by the Science-in-Society programme of the Seventh Framework programme for research of the European Union. As such, the mobilization and mutual learning, which happened in the European Technology Assessment Conference in Prague March 13 -15, 2013, was at the very heart of the idea of PACITA. PACITA has four main aims, namely 1) to document
more » ... praxis of national and cross-European Technology-Assessment activities, 2) to establish training and learning on Technology Assessment among users and practitioners, 3) to intensify the debate on TA with the aim of expanding the Technology-Assessment landscape in Europe and 4) to provide state-of-the-art examples of projects, methods, dissemination and impacts of Technology Assessment, both on the national/regional and European level. There is a sincere hope that through PACITA, new initiatives, activities and institutions can be established that would implement policy-oriented Technology Assessment close to the decision-making processes on all levels in the European Union. This is in line with the history of Technology Assessment and the long-term stated wish from MP/MEPs for a strengthened TA across Europe and in the new member states, as expressed by the European Parliament, the European Commission, many member states, the Council of Europe and the European network on Parliamentary Technology Assessment, EPTA. Foreword This conference will be followed be a second PACITA Conference in Berlin on 25 -27 February 2015, which will mark the finalization of the PACITA project under the promising title "The Next Horizon of Technology Assessment". It is the hope of the PACITA project that this book provides insight into the nature, activities and importance of policy-oriented Technology Assessment and that it will motivate for even more activity in this field, thereby providing more mobilization and mutual learning on Technology Assessment in the future. In the first keynote speech, Wiebe Bijker described the so-called Dutch democratic experiment about handling nanotechnologies as an exemplary case. According to him, the state should return from its neoliberal retreat and become an advocate of democratic governance. In the second keynote speech, Stefan Böschen called for "opening the black box of scientific expertise-building" to allow for meta-expertise as a link between epistemic and cultural values to be included into the political decision-making process. The third keynote speech by Rut Bízková dealt with smart infrastructures as a prerequisite for sustainable competitiveness. There is a paradox of the long-term horizon of sustainable development and short-term economic interests. Abstract Technology Assessment (TA) was first about technology, then about citizens and now, I will argue, must be about democracy. When conceived in the 1970s, TA was mostly about technology, innovation and science. In the 1990s, TA also became about users and citizens in processes of innovation and technological and scientific development. In this opening keynote address to the Prague PACITA conference 2013, I will argue that the time has now come to make TA also about democracy, about the role of the state and its relations with citizens and science and technology. Reviewing the state of play in TA in Europe, I will argue that the conceptual development of TA during the past four decades has been converging with the conceptual developments in technology studies and with developments in European societies. This then, I will propose, requires TA to think about more active and novel roles of the state (in its various forms). To develop such novel ways, we need to experiment with our democracies, and my conclusion will be that TA should play a central role in these experiments. Technology Assessment: The State of Play To understand the state of play in TA at this moment, it will be helpful to briefly review the development of TA. For its early history I am drawing on the analysis by Ruud Smits and Jos Leyten (1991) . When the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) was created by the US Congress in 1972, its mission was to provide 'early warning' of critical technological and scientific developments that without such warning might cause societal and political trouble. The underlying assumption was a rather linear and simplistic view of the relation between technology and society: technology develops autonomously and it has an impact on 27 Technology Assessment: The State of Play
doi:10.26041/fhnw-3245 fatcat:cg4yte2fwfhmroozvtt3zccwxu