Session summary and rationale
Session organizers: Erika Szymanski & Koichi Mikami
Best practices are an appealing idea—we all want what’s best—but they can come with unintended consequences. By assuming that what has worked well in one context should work well in another, best practices can erase difference when exported from one place to another. In this session we are interested in how we might develop practices for responsible research and innovation (RRI) between the UK and Japan, learning from each other while remaining sensitive to context. In the UK, RRI has been presented as a way of opening up conversations about the goals and shape of science and technology, but is more commonly presented as a narrowly framed set of issues to be checked off a list. Meanwhile, Japanese academics and policy makers are actively developing approaches to RRI and looking to Western contexts with more established programmes for models to adopt, thereby risking not only reproducing limited framings but also eliding contextual particularities. Here, we draw on our experiences in each country to generate ways of identifying, discussing and propagating “alternative practices” for RRI. Our cases span synthetic biology, molecular robotics, artificial intelligence, and molecular medicine. We aim to increase the visibility of RRI as an active and unsettled area of concern in need of continued reflection and elaboration, and to refresh the RRI conversation in light of tendencies to reduce RRI to narrowly framed institutional requirements.
Colorado State University