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Governance strategies for living technologies : bridging the gap between stimulating and regulating technoscience

By Q.C. van Est and D. Stemerding


The life sciences present a politically and ethically sensitive area of technology development. NBIC convergence—the convergence of nanotechnology, biotechnology, and information and cognitive technology—presents an increased interaction between the biological and physical sciences. As a result the bio-debate is no longer dominated by biotechnology, but driven by NBIC convergence. NBIC convergence enables two bioengineering megatrends: "biology becoming technology" and "technology becoming biology." The notion of living technologies captures the latter megatrend. Accordingly, living technology presents a politically and ethically sensitive area. This implies that governments sooner or later are faced with the challenge of both promoting and regulating the development of living technology. This article describes four current political models to deal with innovation promotion and risk regulation. Based on two specific developments in the field of living technologies—(psycho)physiological computing and synthetic biology—we reflect on appropriate governance strategies for living technologies. We conclude that recent pleas for anticipatory and deliberative governance tend to neglect the need for anticipatory regulation as a key factor in guiding the development of the life sciences from a societal perspective. In particular, when it is expected that a certain living technology will radically challenge current regulatory systems, one should opt for just such a more active biopolitical approach

Topics: Journal Article, Review
Year: 2013
DOI identifier: 10.1162/artl_a_00115
OAI identifier:
Provided by: NARCIS
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