1st Edition

Assessing the Societal Implications of Emerging Technologies Anticipatory governance in practice

By Evan S. Michelson Copyright 2016
    244 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    242 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    A growing problem of interest in the field of science and technology policy is that the next generation of innovations is arriving at an accelerating rate, and the governance system is struggling to catch up. Current approaches and institutions for effective technology assessment are ill suited and poorly designed to proactively address the multidimensional, interconnected societal impacts of science and technology advancements that are already taking place and expected to continue over the course of the 21st century.

    This book offers tangible insights into the strategies deployed by well-known, high-profile organizations involved in anticipating the various societal and policy implications of nanotechnology and synthetic biology. It focuses predominantly on an examination of the practices adopted by the often-cited and uniquely positioned Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies in the United States, as well as being informed by comparisons with a range of institutions also interested in embedding forward-looking perspectives in their respective area of innovation. The book lays out one of the first actionable roadmaps that other interested stakeholders can follow when working toward institutionalizing anticipatory governance practices throughout the policymaking process.

    1. Shaping Policy for Emerging Technologies in the United States 
    2. The Institutional Context and Research Overview 
    3. Taking the Future Seriously: Anticipatory Governance and a New Approach to Policymaking 
    4. "Getting There Early:" Anticipating Alternative Futures 
    5. "A Lot of Boundary Testing Going On:" Spanning Multiple Divides 
    6. "Near Perfect Storm of Interest:" Engaging the Public 
    7. Foreshadowing the Future: Learning Lessons for the Next Wave of Emerging Technologies



    Evan S. Michelson is a Program Director at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, USA

    "With the sophistication of a scholar and the savvy of a Washington insider, Evan Michelson reveals the research and policy roles of the Woodrow Wilson International Center’s Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies. In doing so, he creates much-needed perspective on the role of NGOs in the anticipatory governance of nanotechnology and other emerging technologies."–David H. Guston, Professor and Founding Director, School for the Future of Innovation in Society, Arizona State University, USA

    "In this meticulously documented yet engaging work, Michelson details how recent networked, non-governmental alternatives to US government technology assessment provide superior long term governance of emerging nanotechnologies and synthetic biology. The book compellingly argues that new anticipatory nongovernmental approaches ‘proactively address the multidimensional, interconnected societal impacts of science and technology advancements.’"–Barbara Herr Harthorn, Director, Center for Nanotechnology in Society, University of California at Santa Barbara, USA

    "This is an extremely interesting and timely book. Evan Michelson has placed his hands on one of the most challenging policy issues today: how to anticipate technology advancements in order to adjust governance systems appropriately. He skillfully uses the examples of two ‘hot’ fields, nanotechnology and synthetic biology. An outstanding job. Must read!!"–Nicholas S. Vonortas, Professor of Economics and International Affairs, Center for International Science and Technology Policy & Department of Economics, The George Washington University, USA

    "This is an eminently readable account of how decentralized approaches have been used to consider future societal impacts of nanotechnology and synthetic biology. The book gives us rich insights into the development of the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies among other non-governmental efforts to address key aspects of technology assessment."–Jan Youtie, Director, Program in Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy, Georgia Institute of Technology, USA

    "Evan Michelson has done the policy and research communities an important service. Assessing the Societal Implications of Emerging Technologies: Anticipatory Governance in Practice demonstrates the critical role of systematic efforts to imagine different futures and then understand what this means for how we perceive and act in the present. Not only does this study lay out the utility of futures thinking but it also reviews and explains how it is done. Michelson’s message is clear: decision makers need to engage in broad based processes that use the future to leverage collective intelligence – without this knowledge the potential of human genius may not only be wasted but could do significant harm."Riel Miller, former Head of Foresight, UNESCO, France

    "A debut book offers an ambitious examination of a new approach to the formulation of policy regarding science...An astute, painstakingly documented introduction to anticipatory governance written with thoroughness and expertise."
    Kirkus Reviews, pp.184, July 2016

    'Overall, the book provides detailed examples of the ways in which PEN and other entities engaged in thinking about the future…[A] number of sections, such as the history of anticipa-tory governance (Chapter 3), description of boundary work (Chapter 5), and discussions of the PUS and PES models (Chapter 6) serve as excellent overviews of the re-spective topics, and would not only serve as a helpful re-source for scholars, but could also serve as accessible readings for upper level undergraduate and graduate Science and Technology Studies (STS) and policy courses.'

    Shannon N. Conley, Assistant Professor, Integrated Science and Technology, Science and Public Policy, 2017, Vol. 0, No. 0

     "the book fills a niche in the nanotechnology and synthetic biology fields in as much as both emerging technologies, and the genus as a whole, need the kind of dialogue it fulfils in its seven chapters..."

    Denis Loveridge, (2016) "Assessing the societal implications of emerging technologies: anticipatory governance in practice", foresight, Vol. 18 Issue: 6, pp.660-662