1What Makes New Science and Technology Meaningful to Society?

Intensive and sometimes controversial debates about new forms of technology, especially those embodying a visionary perspective, have become a dominant field of communication between science, technology and society in the past decades. They make up the largest portion of the debates in the field of responsible research and innovation (RRI). In this introductory chapter, I ask how the social and ethical interest in new technology arises – in other words, how scientific and technical developments in the laboratory or in modeling are given real social meaning. The directions I examine in this book exist in a practical context. The objective is to clarify RRI studies and discussions about their roots and thus to contribute to a more transparent democratic debate over the direction and utilization of scientific and technological progress. The generation of sociotechnical meaning, which – according to my thesis – is essential for making new technology interesting for RRI debates, is not a task for scientists and engineers alone but requires public involvement.

1.1. Motivation and objectives

The debate on responsible research and innovation (RRI) [OWE 13a, VAN 14a] has so far been focusing on a comprehensive understanding of innovation [BES 13], on participatory processes to involve stakeholders, citizens and affected persons in design processes and decision making [SYK 13], on understanding responsibility in industry [IAT ...

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