Jun 14, 2019
Many countries, including the UK, regard advances in science and technology as a key factor for delivering benefits to society and the economy. However, there are many complex challenges that may be associated with new developments. These include public concerns and perceptions about new scientific techniques or technology, and health, safety and environmental risks. The difficulty is to establish a managing structure or oversight process that capitalises on the benefits and opportunities offered by emerging science and technology while safeguarding the health and safety of people and minimising risks.
The aim of this study commissioned by Wellcome was to examine the oversight of emerging science and technology in historical and current cases spanning different countries, sectors and science and technology areas, and extract common themes and lessons. Researchers developed a series of 10 diverse case studies to explore the effectiveness of different oversight methods and identify key lessons. To get a balanced understanding of the effectiveness of the different oversight examples analysed, the study focused both on what worked well and not so well in the context of the oversight. The evidence was gathered using a mixed-methods approach designed to analyse existing knowledge and understanding on the current and historical landscape of emerging science and technology oversight. The research is part of a wider project by Wellcome to identify steps that would be required to position the UK as a global leader in the effective, efficient and ethical oversight of emerging science and technology.
The analysis identified a set of common lessons — or guiding principles — that are wide-ranging enough to be usefully considered in other contexts of emerging science and technology oversight.
Illustrations of emerging science and technology oversight in action
Learning from past and present oversight efforts