Good governance and ethics will be necessary to harness technology for the common good. This has brought technology governance to the global agenda in multiple settings, including the G7. In order to address the deeper challenges of emerging technology in society, new forms of governance must operate “upstream” and throughout the process of scientific discovery and innovation. Upstream approaches aim to engage possible stakeholder concerns and values, address them through open and inclusive processes, and embed values of open societies -- such as the protection of human rights, open and trusted markets, and diversity -- in the development of new technologies.
Inclusivity, diversity and stakeholder engagement
Stakeholder and broader public engagement can be means to align science and technology with societal values, goals and needs. This includes the involvement of stakeholders, citizens, and actors typically excluded from the innovation process (e.g. small firms, remote regions, certain social groups, e.g. minorities etc.). The private sector too has a critical role to play in governance.
Policy can play a role in better aligning research, commercialisation and societal needs. This implies investing in public and private sector research and development (R&D) and promoting “mission-oriented” technological transformations that better connect innovation impacts to public policy needs. At the same time, such innovation and industrial policies need to be transparent, open and well-designed so they foster deliberation, produce value for money, and do not distort competition.
From an innovation perspective, governance approaches that engage at a late stage of the innovation process can be inflexible, inadequate and even stifling. More anticipatory kinds of governance -- like new technology assessment methods, foresight strategies and ethics-by-design – can enhance the capacity to govern well.