International Handbook on Responsible Innovation
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International Handbook on Responsible Innovation

A Global Resource

Edited by René von Schomberg and Jonathan Hankins

The Handbook constitutes a global resource for the fast growing interdisciplinary research and policy communities addressing the challenge of driving innovation towards socially desirable outcomes. This book brings together well-known authors from the US, Europe and Asia who develop conceptual and regional perspectives on responsible innovation as well as exploring the prospects for further implementation of responsible innovation in emerging technological practices ranging from agriculture and medicine, to nanotechnology and robotics. The emphasis is on the socio-economic and normative dimensions of innovation including issues of social risk and sustainability.
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Chapter 12: The ties that bind: collective experimentation and participatory design as paradigms for responsible innovation

Alfred Nordmann


Research and innovation should answer to the values that characterize the innovation system as a whole; which is how they can meet societal challenges, advance social and cultural goals, and strengthen solidarity. If this is the core ambition of responsible research and innovation (RRI), it requires at least a general idea of what that innovation system is and how values enter into it. Is it modelled on the idea of a planned economy which expects and demands specific technological advances? Is it defined in terms of the Anthropocene and a vague acknowledgement of the depth and reach of our technological interventions? This chapter considers two other conceptions of the current European innovation system: collective experimentation and participatory design. Both enjoy considerable popularity. In the first conception, Europe is an open laboratory for real-world experiments which are performed by us, in which we are the guinea pigs, and from which we hope to learn something. In the second conception, the future of Europe is the target of participatory design – every one of us contributes creatively to the continuous making, remaking and deliberate shaping of our conditions of life. The chapter offers two conclusions regarding these two conceptions of the innovation system: Without them, anticipation, reflexivity, inclusion and responsiveness – the four pillars of RRI – have no traction and remain vacuous. Of the two conceptions, participatory design sounds more inviting but collective experimentation is better suited to the tradition and idea of Europe.

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