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Bringing converging technologies closer to civil society: the role of the precautionary principle

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Advances in converging technologies (CTs) will certainly bring many economic and social benefits. Nevertheless, the uncontrolled development of CTs could also produce many types of risks. Even though all of the threats arising from the uncontrolled development of CTs for society may not yet be apparent today, we are already at the point where we must design suitable policy approaches in order to avoid possible risks. In this article it is argued that the precautionary principle is becoming an increasingly important forum for the inclusion of the lay public in R&D policy decision-making processes. A more active role of citizens in risk assessment and risk governance of CTs is also important due to the many ethical and social dilemmas arising from the new emerging technologies. In this article special attention is paid to the increasing processes of the commodification and commercialization of CTs. Disputes over intellectual property rights, perhaps more than any other CT-connected topic, have recently been touching on basic ethical dilemmas.
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Keywords: R&D decision-making in Slovenia; biopatents; centres of excellence; converging technologies; deficit model of communication; intellectual property rights; precautionary principle; scientific citizenship

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Publication date: 2009-03-01

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