Dr. Miltos Ladikas holds senior research positions at the Institute of Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany, and at the Centre for Professional Ethics, University of Central Lancashire, UK.
He has studied Social Psychology at the London School of Economics (M.Sc., PhD) with a focus on Societal Aspects in Biotechnology Developments. Since 1996, he has held research positions in UK and Germany specialising in science and society issues. He has coordinated a number of international projects in the areas of science and technology policy, technology assessment, ethics of scientific developments, public perceptions in science and technology, genetically modified foods and access to pharmaceuticals.
He advises the European Commission, the European Research Council, the European & Developing Countries Clinical Countries Partnership, and a number of National Research Funds, on socio-ethical issues in research.
His current work focuses on Global aspects of Technology Assessment, Responsible Innovation, Ethics in Science and Technology Policy, as well as, Science Diplomacy.
He has a long-lasting collaboration with Chinese Government think-tanks and institutes and has been instrumental in promoting Europe-China science in society collaborations. Amongst others, he is the editor of “Embedding society in science & technology policy: European and Chinese perspectives” and “Science & Technology Governance and Ethics: A Global Perspective from Europe, India and China”. For more details see: http://www.itas.kit.edu/english/staff_ladikas_miltos.php
Towards a common global analysis of social and ethical issues in “omics” research
The analysis of the social and ethical issues in “omics” developments should be seen within the wider context of national Science & Technology (S&T) discourses and the need to improve social acceptance for S&T developments. For instance, European and Chinese S&T are similar in their aims, ambitions and functionality in social development. Europe has declared the era of a “knowledge-based society” in which S&T plays a central role as the means to resolve the grand societal challenges. China’s view on “social development through science” also gives S&T a main role in the promotion of social welfare and dignified living. Both views place science very high up on the policy agenda, realising that scientific knowledge is a necessary component of every effort to improve living standards and offer sustainable solutions to grand challenges. But, where policy, science and the public converge, a number of debates emerge that require standard tools of analysis, particularly when one attempts to compare them at global level.
In order to understand the content and direction of the public debates in “omics” research at global level, we have developed a common analytical methodology that takes into consideration the dominant national values systems and their reflection in the national discourses. This is based on Technology Assessment (TA), that represents a formal advisory service in European S&T that is rapidly adopted at global level as a means of providing independent expert advice to policy makers but also of bringing science and society closer together.
Recent TA-inspired work comparing European and Chinese perspectives on synthetic biology is telling about the roots and direction of the national debates in “omics” research. Based on the analysis of the three main discourses of Innovation, Risk and Power & Control, it sets an example of a global approach that respects national cultural, political and social perspectives while attempting to standardise the tools of a global analysis. Results show that the Chinese public still holds science in high esteem and the discourse is informed by the full spectrum of national values, from promoting economic development (progress), protecting public health (harmony), safeguarding national security and coping with an ageing and growing population (peace), to addressing resource and environmental needs (sustainability). The pursuit of progress and affluence, pragmatism and developmentalism, prevail over potential health or environmental risks, that are perceived as acceptable compared to the enormous opportunities of the technology.
The European discourse revolves around the values of citizens’ rights and sustainability whereby, civil society organizations bring up concerns regarding biosafety and biosecurity, freedom of research, monopolization and increasing global inequalities, and demand a strict precautionary approach. The technology is supported for its potential contribution to a greener economy but it is also challenged for its detrimental effects on sustainability. This brings in a more inclusive perspective of the values of justice, solidarity and equality.
Ultimately, the analysis of the national “omics” debates provides a blueprint for the development of a Global TA approach that explores the relationship between science, society and policy at global level.