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Knowledge Politics and New Converging Technologies; A Social Science Perspective.

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How are we handling knowledge of new technologies?

An EU-funded initiative addressed issues related to governance and public perception of knowledge produced in the field of convergence technologies.

Digital Economy

As advances in technology and scientific knowledge increasingly come together across a range of disciplines, a new framework for discussion of social, political, cultural and economic aspects is needed. Science must address these issues as growing public concern accompanied by moral, political and economic pressures raise questions about the safety, ethics and viability of convergence technologies. These are better known to the scientific community as nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology and cognitive science (NBIC) technologies. Such pressures are already prominent across Europe, particularly regarding biotechnology and stem cell research, with the spotlight now also on nanotechnology. The 'Knowledge politics and new converging technologies; A social science perspective' (Knowledge NBIC) project focused its studies on the knowledge generated from NBIC research and the anticipated social consequences thereof. Project partners chose to take a social scientific approach to the issue, acknowledging from the start that its proposed activities would be exploratory in nature given the evolving developments. Efforts aimed at analysing the patterns of NBIC knowledge production and the actual and potential use of such knowledge as well as social resistance to it. A preliminary assessment of the field was geared towards paving the way for more detailed analytical studies. The consortium also focused on realising a series of networking activities to help form a community interested in this area of research and policy development. Project work commenced by building a database of more than 400 stakeholders that were identified as active in the fields of converging technologies. This database offered a channel for far-reaching dissemination of project information, events and publications. The first project workshop hosted presentations on current research related to converging technologies in the social sciences and humanities. The second workshop featured presentations on current work regarding the regulation of converging technologies. Two international conferences were also organised as a means of engaging researchers, promoting the study of issues related to the interface of converging technologies with knowledge politics and addressing knowledge governance issues. The Knowledge NBIC team, through main and rapid reports, workshops, edited journal issues and dissemination of ongoing work helped identify important and emerging issues in the field of NBIC knowledge production and governance.

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