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The rapid pace of change in emerging science and technology is creating complex issues for societies and decision makers. Our research looks at the interface of science and society to ensure that emerging technologies can proceed responsibly and deliver positive impacts.

The challenge

The rapid march of technological change

As the world becomes increasingly globalised, complex and fast-paced, new science and technologies are quickly changing our lives and the world around us.

Emerging science domains, such as synthetic biology, precision health, robotics and artificial intelligence, have the potential to generate significant societal benefits and commercial opportunities - they could help reinvent and create new industries for Australia. It is for these reasons that CSIRO is investing in these science domains via our Future Science Platforms.

Since transformational research like this can also produce disruptive technologies and precipitate societal change and uncertainty, it raises significant ethical, social and regulatory challenges. Societies are finding it more and more difficult to understand the impacts of new and emerging science and to make decisions about what technologies to implement and how to regulate them.

If left unresolved, these challenges can hinder the progress and innovation required for this science to deliver benefits to society and to future generations.

[Music plays and an animation image appears of a world globe and many technological objects appear spinning around the world globe and the camera gradually zooms out]

Narrator: As the world becomes increasingly globalised, complex and fast paced, innovations in science and technology with potential to change and shape our future are increasing faster than ever before.

[Animation image changes to show Wi-Fi signals emitting from a woman at a park bench using a laptop, a male using a Smartphone, a hamburger stand, and a Smartphone held in a hand]

So, it’s more important than ever that we understand these innovations and the impact they may have on our everyday lives.

[Animation image changes to show various vehicles moving around a harbour side city including ships, drones and cars and then inset images appear of robotic technologies beneath text: Future, Challenges]

At Australia’s leading science agency, CSIRO, we’re investigating how our emerging science in robotics, artificial intelligence, precision health, synthetic biology, hydrogen and much more will help solve Australia’s greatest challenges.

[Animation image changes to show a dull and then glowing light bulb]

We’re looking at how we can use these innovations to help create a better future for us all.

[Text appears across the light bulb: Responsibility + Innovation]

At the same time, we recognise that with innovation comes responsibility.

[Animation image shows text “Responsible Innovation” outlined by broken lines and then the image changes to show a variety of people below a variety of technological symbols and text appears: Values, Needs, Aspirations]

That’s why we’ve invested in an exciting new future science platform called Responsible Innovation to help design our future innovations and to ensure society’s needs, values and aspirations remain at the heart of everything we do.

[Animation image changes to show people on the left and technological symbols on the right of the screen and then the image shows the two groups merging over the screen and text appears: Science CSIRO Society]

Drawing on our extensive research expertise the future science platform will build a bridge between Australian society and our cutting edge research connecting science and society.

[Animation image changes to show Wi-Fi signals emitting from a woman working on a laptop, a male holding a Smartphone, a Smartphone held in a hand, a hamburger bar, and a drone]

It will critically examine these emerging innovations so we ensure everyone understands the benefit they have on their everyday lives, has a voice in ensuring these innovations are responsible, and that they suit our needs into the future.

[Animation image changes to show the CSIRO logo and text appears: To find out more about this new Future Science Platform, visit csiro.au/responsibleinnovation]

To find out more about this exciting new future science platform visit csiro.au/responsibleinnovation.

[Music plays]

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Our response

Understanding science and technology in society

We have established the Responsible Innovation Future Science Platform (RI FSP) to examine the relationships between disruptive and emerging technologies, and society.

The RI FSP is a six-year, $7.85 million investment in our collective future that will bring leading researchers and scientists from across the nation's innovation system to further our understanding of the challenges for society that are emerging from the development of these new areas of science.

Building upon a strong base of existing social science research within CSIRO, the RI FSP will build expertise in the domains of responsible innovation, science and technology studies and convergence science through cutting-edge, peer-reviewed research.

The research will focus on three inter-related areas:

  • how to account for and manage the risks posed by emerging technologies
  • the nature of trust in emerging technologies in the community
  • how effective our institutions are at seizing the opportunities of emerging technologies while managing their risks.

 

Funding is also being used to establish key research collaborations across Australia's innovation system, to develop and deliver this research capability.

Through our collaborations with The University of Queensland, The Australian National University and Charles Darwin University, we have jointly invested an initial $6.5 million in responsible innovation to examine emerging science including synthetic biology, precision health, hydrogen and artificial intelligence, and will expand to other areas of innovation as they arise.


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