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 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.
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.