New Perspectives on Technology in Society : Experimentation Beyond the Laboratory book cover
1st Edition

New Perspectives on Technology in Society
Experimentation Beyond the Laboratory

ISBN 9781032242026
Published December 13, 2021 by Routledge
260 Pages 17 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

The development and introduction of a new technology to society can be viewed as an experimental process, full of uncertainties, which are only gradually reduced as the technology is employed. Unexpected developments may trigger an experimental process in which society must find new ways to deal with the uncertainties posed.

This book explores how the experimental perspective determines what ethical issues new technologies raise and how it helps morally evaluate their introduction. Expert contributors highlight the uncertainties that accompany the process, identify the social and ethical challenges they give rise to, and propose strategies to manage them.

Focusing on the introduction of new technologies and experimentation as ways to perceive new developments and changing contexts, a key theme of the book is how to approach the moral issues raised by new technology and understand the role of experimentation in exploring these matters.

Table of Contents


Ibo van de Poel, Donna Mehos, and Lotte Asveld, editors

Chapter 1: Control in Scientific and Practical Experiments

Peter Kroes

Chapter 2: The Diversity of Experimentation in the Experimenting Society

Christopher Ansell and Martin Bartenberger

Chapter 3 Moral Experimentation with New Technology

Ibo van de Poel

Chapter 4 The Theatrical Debate: Experimenting with Technologies on Stage

Frank Kupper

Chapter 5 Social Learning in the Bioeconomy: The Ecover Case

Lotte Asveld and Dirk Stemerding

Chapter 6 Cognitive Enhancement: A Social Experiment With Technology

Nicole A Vincent and Emma A. Jane

Chapter 7 Living a Real-World Experiment: Post-Fukushima Imaginaries and Spatial Practices of "Containing the Nuclear"

Ulrike Felt

Chapter 8 "Dormant Parasites": Testing beyond the Laboratory in Uganda’s Malaria Control Program

René Umlauf

Chapter 9 Experimenting with ICT Technologies in Youth Care: Jeugdzorg in the Netherlands

Ben Kokkeler and Bertil Brandse

Chapter 10 Adversarial Risks in Social Experiments with New Technologies

Wolter Pieters and Francien Duschesne

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Lotte Asveld is an assistant professor at Delft University of Technology studying the societal aspects of biotechnology. Her main research interests concern responsible innovation in the field of biotechnology and synthetic biology: how can the societal debate on biotechnology and synthetic biology be integrated in innovation trajectories? Lotte has worked as a researcher in the department of Philosophy at DUT, where she also received her PhD. Her PhD concerned societal decision making on technological risks. Lotte also worked as a researcher at the Rathenau Institute, focusing on the bioeconomy, and as a freelance researcher in China.

Donna C. Mehos is an independent scholar who has studied historical and sociological aspects of science and technology. In her earlier work, she examined nineteenth-century science in European cultural life and technological expertise in the colonial and post-colonial world including the technopolitics of the Cold War. Her recent work explores current infrastructure development including decentralization of infrastructure networks, social acceptability and policy implications of wind energy, and the future of gas in energy infrastructures.

Ibo van de Poel is Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Professor in Ethics and Technology and head of the Department of Values, Technology & Innovation at the Faculty Technology, Policy and Management at the Technical University Delft in the Netherlands. He has published on engineering ethics, the moral acceptability of technological risks, design for values, responsible innovation, moral responsibility in research networks, ethics of new emerging technologies, and the idea of new technology as social experiment.


"Technologies released into the public domain are expected to be safe and reliable. Experiments, by definition, are ventures into the unknown. How thus can technologies in society be responsibly conceptualized as social experiments? New Perspectives on Technology in Society is a major step to help discerning ethical issues and possibilities of moral learning during the experimental introduction of new technologies into society. The contributions in this excellent volume show on how carefully planned social experiments can denote processes in which ignorance and surprise are creatively used for deliberate and systematic learning. Given the unavoidable character of the experimental nature of novel technologies in the 21st century (from self-driving cars to synthetic biology or new medical tests) the studies in this volume could not be timelier." - Matthias Gross, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research and University of Jena, Germany