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Challenges of interdisciplinary evaluation of science and technology development

русская версия

Опубликовано на портале: 31-12-2010
During 1970-1980s the Soviet Union already launched investigation of the effects  of new equipment and technology introduction, with a socio-cological expert commission on large technical and economic projects initiated. The advisers, knowing specific methods, were assigned with lending information support to their chiefs in reasonable and rational decision making. That time it was widely talked about a systemic analysis and forecasting of large technical, economic, ecologic and other system and industry development in the context of a planned economy system, and about long-term plans for scientific and technical, economic and social development. Social projecting or social development planning was viewed as political advising to the governing bodies and officials involved into decision making. These practices, in a sense, may be regarded as an ancestor of the social evaluation of scientific and technical, and economic development. At that point, the attention was mainly focused on the proper location of plants and whole cities, ensuring workforce availability, and on the essential social sphere development. Also, approximately that time the conception of global challenges of humanity development was formulated. These global challenges, being of fundamental importance for the world on the whole, irrespective of its division into various social systems, lie within the scope of science and practice rather than theory. And to tackle these challenging problems it is essential to launch interdisciplinary and comprehensive researches, and ensure public evaluation of the challenges posed. Then it was admitted that global challenges also encompass environmental ones, which initiated conscious implementation of ecological policy. A long time passed before the USSR introduced an ecological expert commission as an effective instrument for ecological policy implementation. The introduction of procedures for environmental impact evaluation contributed to establishing mechanisms of environmentally sound managerial decision making, required for the effective implementation of the outlined economic, scientific and technical plans. However, there is no higher level of relatively independent evaluation of the technical effects on political decision making in present-day Russia. In recent years elaboration of a systemic analysis is closely connected to the study of social, economical, environmental and other effects of new technologies, as ignoring negative impacts of new equipment and technology introduction may lead to disastrous consequences for humanity and environment. However, such terrible consequences of nuclear power industry development as the Chernobyl disaster can not always be forecasted. But, we must try to do it, when launching new projects. It is imperative to conduct relevant researches, seek the opposition opinion before making a final decision, establish legal mechanisms for regulating these issues. The developed western countries name this set of measures a “social evaluation of science and technology”. Social evaluation of technology is a systematic and regular research into technology’s conditions and ways of development, an investigation of direct and indirect technical, economic, healthcare, environmental, social and other consequences of new equipment and technology introduction and possible options of this development. It is all the abovementioned that should become a foundation for reasonable decision making, with subsequent implementation by appropriate social institutions. Such social evaluation of technology is an interdisciplinary challenge, which requires experts with wide knowledge of not only technical and natural  scientific, but also social and humanitarian aspects. Classical science was merely focusing on study and explanation of natural phenomena. Contemporary science is often forced to participate in practical decision making, for instance, in shaping public opinion in the course of political decision making. Furthermore, science is one of the largest social institutions, which want to be beneficial for society and require from contemporary society and state, if it wishes to remain among the forward-looking states of the world, increasing expenditures, with subsequent development of new evaluation options of its operation and potential. The process of acquiring scientific knowledge should integrate into economical and political decision making, which, in its turn, makes scientific research more valuable for economic development (as an innovation introducer) and for political problem  solving (as a supplier of topics, challenges and knowledge, essential for decision making). Today technology as a background and, at the same time, a result of scientific researches, supported by economic and government agencies, developed into a world power, based on the “principle of making” everything. Ultimately, scientific and technical progress turns out  to be a step backwards for nature and humanity, as it pollutes the environment and destroys human body defenses. The system technology is dealing with this challenge by focusing attention to consideration of risks and improving safety of contemporary technology and equipment. At the current state of science and technology development it became clear that scientific knowledge is unable to foresee every detail, though it is only possible to predict definite degree of risk posed by new scientific discoveries. Actually, a new pattern of science and technology development is being elaborated.
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