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Who should govern synthetic biology? What are the ethical dimensions and visions for its desirable futures? How could we facilitate better and closer collaboration and organization across the disciplines? Synthetic biology - one of a suite of emerging technologies like nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, geoengineering, and others - is considered to be potentially transformative. In November 2014, presenters David Guston (ASU) and Jenny Brian (ASU), along with Richard Murray (Caltech) organized a workshop in Tempe, AZ, to help explore and articulate research agendas in the societal aspects of synthetic biology. Sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the workshop gathered approximately 115 researchers from social and technical fields to generate, articulate, and disseminate ideas for research on the societal aspects of synthetic biology. Workshop participants considered questions about what to study (e.g. bioeconomy, biosecurity, sustainability, etc.), as well as with what methods (e.g. integrated or at-a-distance) and at what scale (e.g. individual investigator or center-level). At this seminar, Guston and Brian will present the initial results of that workshop and sketch out potential research agendas and scholarly and professional infrastructures to support an integrated research program that encourages awareness among all groups, facilitates better and closer collaboration and organization across the disciplines, and opens up possibilities for new research directions.
Featuring David Guston, Co-Director, Consortium for Science, Policy & Outcomes, Director, Center for Nanotechnology in Society, Professor, Political Science and Jennifer Brian, Honors Faculty Fellow, The Barrett Honors College, Arizona State University.