Intergenerational Equity in Evaluating Technology Options

Intergenerational Equity in Evaluating Technology Options
22 November 2019 09:40 - 10:30

In this panel discussion, science and technology are broadly defined to include a wide range of applications, disciplines (e.g. social, natural, engineering), and forms (e.g. hardware, software).

Understanding the direction and the speed of technological change is important to gain foresight on the potential short- and long-term socio-environmental impact of STI. These are often only realised in hindsight, with complex direct and indirect interactions - both positive and negative. Often, such implications are not yet fully understood, and more deliberate attention is needed to develop mechanisms for participatory-based technology assessments of the socio-economic and environmental impact of emerging technologies, considering nationally-and-locally driven value systems. The outcome of such an exercise can help anticipate the impact of STI and its influence on development trajectories. Technology assessments should aim to guide the development of STI to be inclusive, equitable, and sustainable by design, while scaling STI in a way that accelerates progress on SDGs.

Many discussions today focus exclusively on new and emerging technologies (also called frontier technologies - for example, nanotechnology, automation, robotics, AI, AR, CRISPR). They are often conducted in isolation from each other and from other technological developments. There is a growing need to broaden the discussion on the implications of technologies on people, on the planet and on the systems that support them (e.g. codes/standards). Furthermore, technology assessments should be done across the entire life cycle, including design, development, deployment, use, and discard.

The proposed panel discussion aims to bring a youth lens to the G-STIC conference, adding an important layer of discussion based on intergenerational equity for both conference participants and beneficiaries of its outcomes. The growing importance of this topic has been extensively elaborated by various UN resolutions (A/RES/72/242 & A/RES/73/17), as well as the Secretary General’s Strategy on New Technologies and the UN Technology Facilitation Mechanism. The proposed set of activities will also assist in taking G-STIC forward to a new level, where integrated technological clusters are screened against a set of soft criteria to ensure that they are socially acceptable, environmentally sound, and economically feasible and affordable.

Guiding questions for the panel discussion

• How to ensure integrated technological solutions take the needs of the next generation into consideration before entering today’s market?

• What knowledge, tools, and resources are needed to assess the socio-economic implications of technologies and their impact on the achievements of the SDGs?

• How can foresight on the future impact of technologies help us today to make better-informed decisions?

• Which enabling science-policy, regulatory, societal, and behaviour conditions can help us ensure long-term trajectories of technologies that benefit people and planet?

See you at G-STIC 2019