Essay Sample on Ethics of Invention: Technology and the Human Future

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  6
Wordcount:  1515 Words
Date:  2022-08-17


Scientific-technological activity (science as an action) has a multidimensional nature in which heterogeneous agents interact with diverse interests in the production, validation, and legitimation of the innovation process. Emerging technologies incorporate a broad set of natural, social and human dimensions. The main message in Shelia Jasanoff book, Ethics of Invention: Technology and the Human Future, aims to reflect on ethical aspects, the appropriation of technology and economic development, governance, the evaluation of technologies, sustainability, and socio-technical integration among other aspects. The ethics of invention: technology and the human future). In this book, Jasanoff discusses the ways in which we delegate power to technological systems and reflects on how lost control could be regained. In a reflection on technology, ethics, and human rights, Jasanoff extends through different problems related to the intrusion of technology in people's lives.

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The concept of technologies of humility, developed by the Jasanoff, seeks to think about the innovation of the present from who can get hurt, instead of who can win, because social justice has no place in this discussion today. Jasanoff argues that in addition to being a source of uncertainty, science always offers partial knowledge (99). The effects of transgenics or electromagnetic fields on health, the level of safety of nuclear cemeteries, the effects of global warming, to name just a few examples, are issues of which little is known. In these and other cases, scientific knowledge is insufficient to make decisions. The search for other sources of knowledge and other logics becomes necessary.

Jasanoff adds that while science offers us what seems to be the only answer and the best before complex problems, looking for alternatives in other forms of knowledge can make people recognize the complexity of such problems, and can lead to recognizing the ignorance in people (124). Thus, looking beyond science invites individuals to deal humbly with ambiguity. Such recognition of the limits of science and its role in decision-making processes can be carried out in a systematic way, through what Jasanoff calls "technologies of humility", social devices of ethical reflection that inform political decisions, slowing them down, opening the opportunity to think seriously about the sources of uncertainty, indeterminacy and the complexity of the issues people face.

I agree with Jasanoff that it is important to create a scientific culture in the current society (27). The communication of science is a right of citizens and part of the scientific activity of each researcher. It is essential to promote if possible, even to a greater extent, the instruments, applications, and tools that allow a true implication of the citizens in the co-management of the objectives of science. The state should play a leading role in the promotion of a true citizen science, a science, which seeks to provide itself with a true social foundation by actively involving all phases of the scientific process (from the definition of the object to the discussion on the applications of its results) to civil society.

According to Jasanoff, technologies of humility have nothing to do with submission or obedience but, rather, with the cancellation of arrogance and ignorance (36). The fact that through the use of digital technologies communities previously excluded can play a decisive role in the compilation and production of information, in its interpretation and in the subsequent deliberation on the relevance of its application and its use. That, of course, forces scientists to adopt more flexible, more inclusive and more flexible dispositions and attitudes. Anyone can propose a collaborative science project; anyone can join a project that requires collaboration. That should be, in Jasanoff's opinion, the horizon of the future development of the web environment.

I agree with Jasanoff that societal and humanistic logics should be introduced into innovation to prevent a dominant class with its specific logic from becoming autonomous and becoming its own end. Because of the limitation of science to anticipate, predict and control the future, the social contract defining scientific needs must be renegotiated. Governments should reconsider the relationship between experts, policymakers and citizens in technology management. Decision-makers need a set of humble technologies to systematically evaluate the unknown and the uncertain. Jasanoff advocates the establishment of methods and habits of thought that can grasp the limits of the understanding that are the unknown, uncertain, ambiguous and uncontrollable (29). I agree with this since, clearly, the entire society is convened to explore the likely consequences, affect the scenarios for the future.

Everyone feels caught in a vice between the surge of all possible innovations and a feeling of helplessness. Technical progress is experienced as a fatality to suffer rather than as a social problem that involves choices. Because the domination of the experts has evacuated the putting in politics of the scientific and technical questions, it hides the fact that technoscience is reshaping the world in a controversial way. It tries to minimize the health damage that the citizens suffer (contaminated blood, mad cow, pesticides, and waves). However, the emergence of incalculable relocated and irremediable risks, the ambivalence of uses, and the importance of the societal impacts of innovations increase anxiety and mistrust. Political tools must be enriched to co-develop - in a confrontation of cultures and visions of the future - preferences, norms, decisions.

Regarding GMO's, Jasanoff states that the current financial and ecological crises are both the result of technological misalignment. There is less talk of the technological crisis, embodied by the opposition to GMOs, which is increasingly reflected in a rejection of technocracy (99-100). She calls for public debate cycles or synthetic biology for any upcoming GMOs. There is need to create a true democratic vitality. Technologies and policies should be forged in the image of mental, environmental, and social ecology. Jasanoff states that there is need to have a framework program that calls for research and engineering activities to better align their process and results with the values, needs and expectations of European society (97-99). Policies should also specify the importance of addressing social needs, ethical issues and global challenges in research and innovation.

Given that an important part of today's challenges suffers consequences due to technological advances, Jasanoff reflects in her book that "although they facilitate actions, they can also undermine values as appreciated as generosity and mutual care in everyday life" (58). Jasanoff advocates for strengthening the development of science, boost innovation based on science, technology, and innovation, promote the role of the State as a user and promoter of science, and enhance the development of regions and territories from this substrate (113). Jasanoff also advocates for the installation of science, technology, and innovation in the national culture, improvement of regulations that affect the activity of science, technology, and innovation, and consolidating and an institutional framework in the area of science and technology.

Jasanoff recommends the development of a culture of public debate that allows going beyond the "politically correct" debate to gradually create the conditions for genuine participatory democracy, a condition for the desired co-construction of tomorrow's technologies and society (33). She also calls for the engagement of citizens in the development of governance issues related to technology and advocates understanding the governance of science as a result of a flexible, contextual and multidimensional dynamic in which concur a heterogeneity of social and economic demands, political interests, technical capabilities, and sociocultural factors. The Science and Technology Studies suggest new ways to conceptualize the relationships between science, technology, public policies, and society.

Technology and science are vital elements and have a role in laws, politics and modern democracies. If people accept that technology is a social construction incorporated into material culture, then by studying the ethics of invention, it is also making reference to the social structures that have shaped it and the cultural, political, law and globalization elements of which it is a part. In other words, technology is now part of the society and culture. That is why it is urgent and necessary to continue developing critical approaches to technology, to end consequences due to technological advances, as they end up filtering into state spheres and designing public policies that direct the resources of the nation.


Finally, it should be noted that Jasanoff's work also represents an interesting contribution to the studies on science and technology policy, especially insofar as it encourages ethics to deal with technology issues. The background of all this is that despite the onslaught of globalization and the continuous advance in the ideology of technology, there are movements across the political spectrum and - more cohesively still - in the academic world, working together to place technology under more and better-analyzed perspectives. As a result, the twenty-first century offers the opportunity to seek an ethical vision that will lead people on the path between natural positivism and technological hubris. It is necessary to be willing to understand technology as a practice, as a fundamental piece of material culture, which has not always required a scientific knowledge applied to be possible. Only in this way can technology be addressed in all its social, political, cultural and economic dimensions.

Works Cited

Jasanoff, Sheila. The Ethics of Invention: Technology and the Human Future. Copyright 2016.: W.W. Norton &, 2016. Print.

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