A number of interesting European Science Foundation reports

Looking at the European Science Foundation publications page, I was happy to discover a number of interesting reports that were published in the last year:

Computing metaphors and synthetic biology

The metaphors of computers and computing were very popular in the debate on synthetic biology, especially in quotes from scientists; the language was rich in codes, booting up, software, hardware, programming, executing and tagging. Venter says “it’s pretty stunning” to replace the DNA software in a cell.

“The cell instantly starts reading that new software, starts making a whole different set of proteins, and within a short while all the characteristics of the first species disappear and a new species emerges from the software that controls that cell going forward.”(Munro 2010)

Previously, “reading” was done by researchers or computers, while now it seems that cells do the reading and function as software, a chaining of metaphors that is quite novel in a media context.
While in the debate about the human genome the only parts of the computer/computing metaphor were those of codes and soft-ware (Nerlich and Hellsten 2004), in the debate on synthetic biology the metaphor was extended to cover booting up, tagging and executing, all new uses of themetaphor.

Really interesting article on Synthetic biology: building the language for a new science brick by metaphorical brick by Iina Hellsten and Brigitte Nerlich.

Responsible Research and Innovation

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Options for Strengthening Responsible Research and Innovation

This expert group report on the State of Art in Europe on Responsible Research and Innovation has been authored by an interdisciplinary group with experts from science, innovation, economics, law, governance and ethics’.

It was prepared as an intermediate step in the reflection on future policy initiatives regarding Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI). Currently, various policy discussions are taking place regarding RRI, both inside and outside of the European Commission. In order to provide input to these policy deliberations, this group was asked to reflect specifically on policy options with regard to a possible Communication or Recommendation from the European Commission on RRI.

You can find the report here.

NEW EU-funded project: PROGRESS – PROmoting Global REsponsible research and Social and Scientific innovation

Objective: Delivering European Renewal relies heavily on the advancement of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) that is, research and innovation which is: – is ethically acceptable, – is sustainable by avoiding significant adverse effects and – drives towards the common good, i.e. societal desirability. To achieve maximum impact where it is most needed, ProGReSS concentrates on the underexplored and least converging part of RRI, namely achieving societal desirability. The project will link existing international networks of RRI from all continents with European partners and policy-makers, policy-advisors, funders, industry and non-governmental organisations. In interactive discussions with relevant societal actors as well as innovators, we will move RRI debates from the national or regional to the global level and achieve the following objectives:
1. Link existing international networks of RRI with relevant societal actors on a global scale to focus innovation on societal desirability.
2. Complete a major fact-finding mission comparing science funding strategies and innovation policies in Europe, the US, China, Japan, India, Australia, and South Africa.
3. Advocate a European normative model for RRI globally, using constitutional values as a driver to inform societal desirability.
4. Develop a strategy for fostering the convergence of regional innovation systems at the global level.

UPDATE: see more recent post with more links