Two things are central to today’s societies: first, these societies are built on technologies, and second, knowledge is crucial in organizing these societies. However, if we look at what kind of knowledge is typically used in governing modern societies, we see a dominance of experts: people with the right diplomas get most opportunities to contribute their knowledge. When it comes to issues around complex technologies, this phenomenon becomes stronger, because the requirements for knowledge seem to become even more specific.
In this research project, a novel type of Li-Ion battery is developed. More specifically, the carbon (graphite) that is conventionally used as the battery anode, is replaced by silica harvested from the exoskeleton of Diatom algae. As a social scientist, I am on board the project team. The social-scientific part of the project engages with the question how such an innovation project can be managed according to principles of responsible research and innovation. To this end, we will use methodologies for action research and stakeholder engagements, en devise new methods as needed.
Researchers are pulled in various, sometimes contradictory directions by the multiplication of performance metrics and new incentives to align with societal needs. Management structures, funding systems, and publication practices are increasingly influenced by pressures to promote only the highest quality science, and by models and incentives for academic advancement that would produce this highest quality.
I was involved in the RespInnBio project, funded by the Dutch Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), in cooperation with DSM-India. The research concerns socially responsible innovation in agricultural biotechnology.
The MILESECURE-2050 project aimed to understand and overcome the political, economical and behavioural traits and trends that led Europe to its difficulties in reducing fossil fuel consumption, and in diversifying its energy balance at rates which guarantee European energy security in the next years (more specifically at the horizon 2050), reduce the threat of climate change, and diminish the risk of an energy gap in the coming decades.
The PRISMS project analyses the traditional trade-off model between privacy and security and works towards a more evidence-based perspective for reconciling privacy and security, trust and concern. It has examined how technologies aimed at enhancing security are subjecting citizens to an increasing amount of surveillance and, in many cases, causing infringements of privacy and fundamental rights.
The DigIDeas project concerned the increasing digitization of our social lives, and investigated this digitization from a philosophical and social-scientific perspective. My role in the project was not very substantial, and mainly consisted of the preparation of the publication below.
The official project website is no longer available.
My PhD research made up the larger part of this NWO-funded project. The underlying idea was that normative discussions relating to innovations in human genomics can only be understood if we take into account the deep-philosophical understandings of human nature that people hold dear. If these understandings are destabilized by technological innovations, politics moves from its normal mode to a crisis mode.