Neuroscience is one of the most promising technologies of this century, with potential for great benefits in health, technology and economy. How can we promote the benefits and minimise the harms of this powerful technology? Inga Ulnicane makes the case for involving scientists and engineers in the process of identifying the dual uses of their research, and for expanding the definition of dual-use.

In a recent book chapter, Inga Ulnicane highlights the need to raise awareness about societal impacts of research, not only among policy-makers but also among researchers themselves. Challenges identified in the dual use work at the project level include the need to expand the dual use definition beyond the civil-military dichotomy, to raise awareness, and to collaborate globally with a diverse set of stakeholders.

“Going beyond the narrow understanding of dual use as civilian vs military is one of the major challenges for dual use work. We also have to look for benefits and harms in other domains such as politics and economy, where potential societal impacts should also be monitored and evaluated.. And researchers themselves should be part of this process” says Inga Ulnicane.

The Human Brain Project has developed a governance approach to dual use issues that goes beyond the European Union Framework Programme definition, incorporating of dual-use research of concern (where misapplication of a technology could pose a threat to public health and safety), Responsible Research and Innovation as well as political, security, intelligence and military issues. It supports an approach to dual-use governance that is based on anticipation, reflection, engagement and action as well as involving contributions from researchers, stakeholders and citizens.

The book chapter is part of “Emerging security technologies and EU governance: Actors, practices and processes”. Register for the virtual book launch on 9 September 2020. 

Ulnicane, I. (2020). The governance of dual-use research in the EU: The case of neuroscience. In A. Calcara, R. Csernatoni, & C. Lavallée (Editors), Emerging security technologies and EU governance: Actors, practices and processes. London: Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group, pages 177-191.

By Anna Holm

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