Precaution and governance of emerging technologies

Scientist walking with DNA strand painted on asphalt and traffic controller pointing to traffic warning signsDr. Jim Collins, Affiliated Faculty of the Center for Biodiversity Outcomes has co-authored a policy forum in Science Magazine on “Precaution and governance of emerging technologies.” Collins and seven other authors summarize the increasing debate of whether or not to add more precautionary approaches to emergent technologies. The latest report titled “Gene Drives on the Horizon” by the U.S. National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) discusses the emergent technologies and ethics in the field of gene drive research. The authors discuss the need to first correctly interpret and define precaution in each specific scientific and technological context – from its understanding, use, and its effects downstream. In the case of gene drives, they summarize the NASEM report and outline four lines of recommended research to understand the benefits and potential harms and uncertainties. Collins et al. finish their forum by acknowledging that precaution could be grounded on emotions (risk panics or innovation thrills) and how NASEM aims to counteract emotion-based research and discoveries. [Image source]