The aim of the EST-Frame project is to contribute to socially robust and ethically sound research and technology development by providing further methodological development of appropriate tools for social impact assessment and technology evaluation. The project will appraise current assessment methods for evaluating emerging science and technology with the objectives of mapping their strengths and weaknesses and determining their appropriate application domains. It will examine the current policy context for emerging science and technology (EST) policy advice and will identify future trends and needs that should be considered. The project will, in close dialogue with end users, also identify to what extent – and in what contexts –a framework of a more integrated nature can be applied, and it will examine the appropriate position that such an integrated framework can operate in, within a context characterised by internationalisation, market politics, and new forms of public-private partnerships in technology governance. Finally, this work will result in the design of a flexible, integrated framework that is intended to facilitate holistic societal dialogue and reflection and policy advice on emerging science and technologies. This integrated framework can be applied by policy forming actors (economic councils; ethical councils; technology appraisal institutes, government technology assessment boards, etc.) who are involved in the process of conducting analyses and coordinating policy deliberations on the broad range of science and technological developments. The project will use four examples of emerging science and technologies – (1) nanotechnology in food production, (2) synthetic biology, (3) biofuels and (4) security in emerging ICTs – to determine how current frameworks are applied to assess social impacts and then evaluate these assessments in light of the integrated framework. An added value of the project is policy relevant advice on the four cases.
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