Intensive debates have taken place and continue to do so over the characterization and definitions of all NEST developments. That they are linked to attributions of meaning is hardly astonishing. Rather surprising is, however, that these debates have hardly been studied systematically until now. This chapter is supposed to constitute a beginning by inquiring as to the connection between definition, characterization, meaning and responsibility.
4.1. Motivation and point of departure
The issues of how NEST are defined and characterized, of who the actors involved are and what can be said about their motivations and arguments, of how definitions and characterizations of NEST influence RRI debates and the public perception, and of how the meaning attached to NEST fields by definitions and characterizations may change over time have not yet been considered explicitly. However, we have been witnessing extensive and complex debates on the definition of nanotechnology [SCH 06], on the understanding of synthetic biology compared to established and emerging fields of biotechnology [PAD 14], about the meaning and definition of autonomy in “autonomous technologies”, and about the understanding of human enhancement [GRU 12b, Chapter 9]. Therefore, it seems worthwhile to look deeper into those issues and related questions concerning the meaning of NEST developments.
Although until now characterizations and definitions ...