SCIENCE IN SOCIETY
Many emerging technologies raise ethical and social issues which mean that they may not necessarily be warmly greeted mean by the wider public. There is a widespread acknowledgement that these ethical and social issues are matters over which we need to discuss together as a society. Part of the business of exploring the boundaries of science and developing new technologies on behalf of our society means that we need to engage with ordinary people - not merely as buyers of products in the supermarket, but as citizens who wish to engage with the process of development. How we should do this, and when, are much debated subjects. The GM food crisis showed what may happen if public are offered products without considering their ethical views, concerns and choices. But how early should publics engage a complex and still largely future technologies like synthetic biology or human enhancement?
Edinethics believes we should start where people are. We (and before that the Church of Scotland SRT Project) have been working closely with the New Economics Foundation (nef) for nearly 10 years, to help develop tools for engaging citizens to be aware and to think about new technologies which could impact their lives, about which they might want a say. We will be developing some pages to tell you some of the things we have done, but here as a starter are two recent tools which Edinethics has been developing with nef.
Democs Card Games
The first is a card game called Democs (DEliberative Meetings Of CitizenS. Edinethics director Donald Bruce was one of the original consultants on the project which created the Democs concept and its first game on stem cells in 2001. Democs games have since been made for a wide variety of issues from cloning to climate change. Donald Bruce has written or co-authored games on the following subjects, many of which can be downloaded free from this or other sites.
Advice on making up the game kit from the download: We find light white card of 120 - 160 gsm weight is easier for players to handle than ordinary paper. Check what your printer can handle. There's quite a lot of cutting up to do. A guillotine may help. It will help a lot to read the instruction booklet to get the idea of what's entailed in playing the game. Then go for it!
Play the Game!
We are looking for groups of 6-8 people to play Democs games on human enhancement. Absolutely no expert knowledge is required - indeed that's the whole point! Would you be interested? If so email us at Edinethics.
Open Up! is the name of a new way of exploring issues in the form of a 'Argument Map'. It's a sheet of A3 paper folded up. As you open it up, you learn about the issue, read some case study stories about it. Finally you reach a map in which you trace your way through sets of questions which have been written to help you think about the implications of the technology. And you can write your comments, and if you want, vote on a sliding scale : Yes- Maybe-Not sure-Don't think so-No.