The Center for Nanotechnology in Society at Arizona State University (CNS-ASU) is an NSF-funded center, created in October 2005, for research, education and outreach on the societal aspects of nano-scale science and engineering (NSE). CNS-ASU involves the collaboration of scores of faculty, students, and staff in more than half a dozen universities across the country. To provide coherence to its broad programs, CNS-ASU attempts to implement “real-time technology assessment” – a vision of social science research, in close collaboration with NSE research – which promotes the possibility of increased “reflexivity” among the NSE researchers themselves and the “anticipatory governance” of emerging nanotechnologies. By reflexivity we mean the ability of researchers to be more aware of the kinds of decisions they are making, on behalf of society, in their research. By anticipatory governance, we mean the ability of a variety of stakeholders and the lay-public to prepare for the issues that NSE may present before those issues are manifest or reified in particular technologies. This presentation will explicate what CNS-ASU means by real-time technology assessment, focusing in particular on how its developing research programs attempt to increase the capacities for reflexivity and anticipatory governance.
Northwestern University, Evanston, IL