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The challenges of responsible research and innovation in contemporary ICT research. Marina Jirotka Grace Eden Bernd Stahl ESRC Research Methods Festival St Catherine’s College Oxford 2-5 July 2012. Introduction. Why address ethics in ICT research? Examples / instances
ESRC Research Methods Festival
St Catherine’s College Oxford
2-5 July 2012
Must try to benefit people and try not to do harm
David Delpy 2011
Owen and Stilgoe 2011
All eight ICT portfolio managers who, between them, manage thirty research areas within the EPSRC ICT portfolio :
Responsibility as devolved
The ICT researchers:
The peer review process:
“We don’t actually do anything active, we expect that all research submitted to us has gone through an ethics panel” (EP03).
“Larger grants are meant to have a risk management strategy, that may be part of it but it’s not for me to manage” (EP07).
“Peer reviewers will comment on the reviewer form of any risky parts” (EP05).
Including the general public in the feedback loop
“It wouldn’t be appropriate to put [the general public] into peer review. The idea that someone in the general public could know whether something in [portfolio research area] is going to transfer into their lives is ridiculous because I barely understand sometimes. ... So it would be more appropriate for them to be involved in the higher levels, e.g. Council, or SAN. ... When you’re talking about high-level strategies then there probably is a role for the general public to play” (EP03).
Contributing to ‘the public good’
“That’s our main driver. We have these themes set-up with perhaps specific funding calls which would encourage people to move towards them. ... Yea, it may not be as explicit as saying at the level of a particular call. But the reason for having the programmes and the strategies of funding would have been driven by: these are here for public good” (EP01).
Responsible research and innovation
“It would be very hard to put something in place that was meaningful but that didn’t effect funding decision or wasn’t seen to effect funding decision. ... ‘is it going to reflect my funding decision and if it is I’m not going say!’ ... how do you encourage people to do this properly .. ‘is it going harm my chance of getting funded?’ ... I can see where it would be useful if it’s not in a decision making capacity, but if it’s not a decision maker is it worth doing? ... In theory it’s a nice idea, [but] once you get down to that detail of how? (EP05).
“I don’t think I’ve come across an unethical scientist. … if a problem occurs it’s maybe that they just haven’t considered the true implications of where there could be problems down the line. I think it’s more that it hasn’t occurred to them rather than they’ve considered it and decided to go with it for the hell of it anyway”Preliminary Issues (1)
We are already ethical
“The things that- the research that we do, doesn’t inherently tell you how to use this research. So, we built a robot that can throw balls 6 meters compared to 1 meter for previous versions. So, there is not kind of moral value associated with that, it’s more of a performance. We’re focused on the performance. How you use that performance is not our part”Preliminary Issues (2)
Technology is agnostic (or value-free)
Engagement with RRI in NanoTechnology, Geo-engineering and Biomedical Sciences