Technology in and for Society: Innovating well for inclusive transitions

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Welcome, Scene-Setting and High-Level Roundtable: Rethinking Technology for Inclusive Transitions

The OECD Secretary-General provided welcome remarks, which was followed by a High-level roundtable. 

 How to drive systems transitions in energy, food, global health, and transport is a critical challenge for the world. Systems change must be simultaneously social and technological and novel technologies – whether digital, material, biological or all three – will certainly play an important role. However, based on previous experiences, the impacts of new technologies are often both positive and negative and these impacts can be unevenly distributed, with potentially disruptive consequences. For this reason, the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals and a number of related declarations and agreements urge countries to foster innovation and technological development within a broader context of poverty eradication, responsible consumption and production, and inclusive and sustainable growth. ● What values, principles and policies must be operationalised to ensure a just and values-centred technological transformation? 
 ● How can public policy and governance help ensure that both the development and implementation of technology in these sociotechnical systems will be inclusive? 
 ● What kinds of discussions and policies will be necessary to align sociotechnical change with societal values and address concerns?
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Panel 1. Building Inclusivity Upstream: Engaging Diverse Actors in the Development of Emerging Technology

Inclusivity in science and technology is an important design principle for innovating well. Inclusivity is often framed in terms of access to knowledge and equitable enjoyment of technological benefits. This panel, however, framed inclusivity in terms of access to the processes of technology development, where enriching diversity of participants is linked to the creation of more socially relevant science and technology. 

 ● What are tools and mechanisms for involving more diverse actors “upstream” in the development of emerging technology? 
 ● How can involving new actors – such as knowledge-producers, entrepreneurs, co-creators, co-owners, and research participants etc. -- present pathways towards more just and inclusive transitions? 
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Introduction to Day 2 and Panel 2 (Parallel)

This short session distilled key insights from day 1 on values and introduce day 2 that focused on goals and tools. The item concluded with a brief introduction to panel 2 - developing emerging technology for critical missions. It took place in three concurrent thematic panels: on neurotechnology (2a), on carbon neutrality (2b) and on global health (2c). 

Calls for “goal-oriented” and transformative innovation display a new level of urgency to better connect emerging technologies to specific challenges and goals like the SDGs. 
 ● How can policies and practices by government and other stakeholders help ensure that the development of novel technologies addresses the most important problems? 
 ● How might governance and inclusive processes help meet this challenge? 
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2a) Harnessing Responsible Neurotechnology for Brain Health

Hundreds of millions of people suffer disorders of the brain and neural systems. Meanwhile, brain science and the associated ability to manipulate the brain and neural systems are deepening. Advances in so-called neurotechnology have the potential to enhance the treatment of brain disorders and build human capabilities, opening new ways to diagnose and treat brain disorders and improve health and well-being. But there are ethical, legal and social challenges associated with the advance of neurotechnology related to privacy, human enhancement, autonomy, and distributive justice. The OECD Council recently enacted the Recommendation on the Responsible Innovation in Neurotechnology to help guide the development of these technologies. 

 ● What kinds of tools and policies are needed to help ensure that emerging neurotechnology advance the mission of brain health in an ethical fashion? 
 ● How can the recently enacted OECD Recommendation best be implemented? 
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2b) Realising Net Carbon Neutrality: The Role of Carbon Management Technologies

Reaching net carbon neutrality is one of the central global challenges we face, and technological development will play a key role. A carbon transition will necessitate policies that promote sustainable management of the carbon stored in biomass, but not exclusively so: technology is increasingly making it possible to recycle industrial sources of carbon, thus making them renewable. The idea of “carbon management” may capture the different facets of the answer: reduce the demand for carbon; reuse and recycle the carbon in the bio- and technosphere; and remove carbon from the atmosphere. But a reliance on technologies for carbon capture and usage (CCU) and carbon capture and storage (CCS) may present barriers for other more radical transformations. 

 ● What knowledge is necessary to better guide national and international policy communities as they manage emerging technology portfolios for carbon management? 
 ● What can more holistic approaches to carbon management offer for developing technology pathways to net carbon neutrality? 
 ● What policies could ensure that one technology is not a barrier for implementation of another?
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2c) Innovating Global Health: Collaborative Action Where Markets Fail

This panel discussed how new kinds of collaboration could bridge research, economic, and societal priorities to achieve a key societal mission: to strengthen health resilience. The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of interdisciplinary and multisector collaboration to address unmet medical needs and emerging societal priorities. When markets and return of investment are limited, for example in novel antibiotics, pandemic vaccines, and some diagnostics, innovators find it difficult to secure funding, develop a sustainable pipeline, and to ensure financial returns. New business models are needed to strengthen health resilience. 

 ● How can collaborative partnerships and novel business models between governments, public research institutes, industry, funders and philanthropy help overcome economic barriers to sustainable health innovation where traditional markets do not deliver? 
 ● How can these mechanisms become more anticipatory of resilience challenges?
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Panel 2. Rapporteur and Wrap-Up 

In this session, three rapporteurs highlighted key points from discussions in from the three concurrent thematic panels: on neurotechnology, on carbon neutrality and on global health. 
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Panel 3. Setting Goals and Agendas Through Foresight and Participatory Processes

In the face of pandemics, climate emergencies, and the digital transformation, it has never been more important to develop anticipatory capacities and strategic intelligence for setting goals agendas for science, technology and governance. The future of both technology and society carries great uncertainty, so tools like anticipatory technology assessment and foresight will be critical, especially if we seek to innovate towards key challenges. 

 ● What are the current gaps and needs in capacity for strategic intelligence for emerging technologies? 
 ● What kinds of diverse actors and practices will better foster this intelligence? 
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Panel 4. Tools of Upstream Technology Governance: Soft Law, Standards, and Ethics-by-Design

Governance of emerging technologies too early in the development process can possibly be constraining; but governing too late can make technologies harder to govern as they become institutionalised. This panel explored a range of tools that seek to enable “innovating well” by working through tool and mechanisms of upstream governance. Communities of technological practice have become more creative in the embedding of social values, not just safety but also ethical considerations, into the development of emerging technology using techniques like soft law, private governance, standards and ethics-by-design. 

 ● What are current trends and best practices for enacting agile and robust approaches to upstream governance that enable innovation but align technological development with societal goals? 
 ● What are the advantages and disadvantages to different forms of upstream technology governance?
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