SFIS Newsletter – Issue 2

Emerge 2017

Emerge 2017

Frankenstein was the provocative theme of Emerge, ASU’s annual festival of futures now led by SFIS. This year’s event, which was held concurrently with the Night of the Open Door on February 25 at the University Club, hosted about 1,100 visitors. Under the direction of SFIS’ Cynthia Selin, director of the Center for the Study of the Future, Emerge created a participatory space with transmedia exhibits that reflected on issues in the 200-year-old novel surrounding unintended consequences of irresponsible science and focused a critical eye on future implications of innovation. With SFIS, sponsors included the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, the Center for Science and the Imagination, the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and the School of Earth and Space Exploration. More details are available on Facebook, ASU State Press, ASU NOW and the website. Pictures are available on Facebook and in the SFIS gallery.


President Crow at RRI Workshop

Michael Crow addresses RRI workshop

International RRI Workshop

SFIS hosted the U.S. national workshop on Responsible Research and Innovation in Practice (RRI-Practice) on February 27. The cross-sector workshop brought together 26 stakeholders from the National Academies, private sector giants like Intel, civil society organizations such as the Union of Concerned Scientists, as well as MIT and other prestigious academic institutions. The engagement revealed that past and current research and innovation practices open many avenues for positive transformation, both in the U.S. and abroad. RRI-Practice is a three-year project under the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 research program. As a partner in this project, SFIS will conduct the U.S.-based investigation. ASU President Michael Crow spoke at the workshop, as did SFIS’ Clark Miller.


STIR team members

STIR team at University of Szeged in Hungary led by Miklós Lukovics (far right)

STIR influencing European innovation

Erik FisherSubsequent to two months at Arizona State University studying the STIR methodology for Responsible Innovation developed by SFIS’ Erik Fisher and planning STIR projects in Eastern European settings, Miklós Lukovics, an associate professor at the University of Szeged in Hungary successfully carried out two pilot projects in Hungary. STIR is a method for integrating broad societal considerations into scientific development to enable science and engineering research practices to be responsive to social and ethical concerns. In continuing collaboration, Fisher and Lukovics have discussed how to tailor STIR to an Eastern European setting. Lukovics launched the project, Danube Framework for Responsible Research and Innovation using Socio-Technical Integration (D-STIR), which aims to improve Danube framework conditions for innovation by integrating Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) into the innovation pipeline. The project brings together 15 organizations from nine European countries, and it will run from January 2017 until June 2019 with support of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA). Fisher has been invited to hold a three-day training on STIR in Hungary during July 2017.



Out and About

Frankenstein modern illustrationFuture Tense — a partnership of Slate, New America, and Arizona State University — held an event at the New America center in Washington, D.C. to discuss the continuing influence of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. The distinguished guests came from academia, literature, film, and TV. Ed Finn, director of the Center for Science and the Imagination (CSI), and Joey Eschrich, also of CSI, moderated panels. Dave Guston, co-director of CSPO, sat on another.

Future Tense also hosted a Cybersecurity Self-Defense course at the New America Center in Washington, D.C. The event was February’s installment of Futurography, Future Tense’s monthly series of online courses offering breakdowns of science and tech topics. Jamie Winterton, SFIS PhD student and Director of Strategy for ASU's Global Security Initiative, was one of the speakers.

David CashDavid Cash, Dean of the John. W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, visited ASU for an SFIS-sponsored Occasional Talk. Cash drew on his impressive experience on the front lines of state level environmental policy to speak on boundary organizations and the importance of communication, negotiation, and mediation between different stakeholder groups and different types of experts. The interface between science and policy, he suggested, must be enhanced through credibility, legitimacy, and salience. Video of the talk is available here. 

 CSPO co-director Dan Sarewitz spoke at ASU for an Occasional Talk entitled: “If It Ain’t Fixed Don’t Break It: The Macro and Micro Politics of the Federal Research Budget Process.” The talk focused on the high level mechanics of federal budget making in the context of research and development, and presented a case study of how constituent action led to the creation of a new research program. Despite not actually existing, Sarewitz explained, the Federal Research Budget is “highly buffered against change” and “has achieved impressive stability over many decades.”

The School for the Future of Innovation in Society joined with the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing and the Creative Nonfiction Foundation to sponsor “The Well-Crafted Proposal,” a day-long seminar in participants learned how editors decide which proposals to pursue, what happens in an editorial meeting, and how proposals get read, reviewed, and evaluated. David Miller, President of Island Press, and Lisa Adams, literary agent and the co-founder of the Garamond Agency, directed the proceedings and held a Q & A. All funds were deposited with the ASU Foundation for A New American University.

 The Center for Science and Imagination (CSI), along with the Institute for Humanities Research, sponsored The Great American Graphic Novel, a lecture by Mark Siegel, award-winning illustrator and New York Times bestselling author. Siegel visited ASU to help direct an experimental workshop with CSI director Ed Finn, which paired three illustrators with three scientists. Siegel is founder and editorial director of First Second Books, an imprint of Macmillan that creates graphic novels for every age category, in a range of themes as diverse as its international creative talent. Siegel’s talk covered the history of comics and graphic novels, the creative process, and the importance of this medium as a tool for literacy in our increasingly visual culture.

 SFIS faculty Ira Bennett and Jameson Wetmore teamed up to deliver a recent Enlightening Lunch. “Our society has been deliberately disenfranchised, fed a series of myths about science and technology,” Wetmore insisted. The myths: lay knowledge is irrelevant, only expert knowledge should inform decision-making processes, and science must remain independent from values. The Center for Engagement & Training in Science & Society (CENTSS), housed within the Institute for the Future of Innovation in Society, works to repair harm done by these myths. Full video of the talk is available here

 ASU’s Global Security Initiative hosted an open forum bringing together leaders from government, industry, and academia to discuss current methods of combating terrorism, cybersecurity threats and the need to establish positive-sum methods. The director of the Initiative, SFIS PhD student Jamie Winterton, introduced the speakers, which included former US Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff. 


Cover of Report


Darshan Karwat, a new faculty member of SFIS, co-authored a CSPO report on better governance and climate change resilience. The report “explores the benefit of approaching resilience as tightly linked to basic ‘good governance’ causes — such as economic development and community empowerment — across sectors and levels.” Read the full report here or the shorter announcement article here.

HSD doctoral student Jamie Winterton, Director of Strategy for ASU's Global Security Initiative, wrote a post for New America’s Humans of Cybersecurity, a dedicated section on Context that celebrates stories of the people and ideas that are changing our digital lives. It is part of New America’s Women in Cybersecurity Project. In the post, Winterton muses on parents’ responsibilities in an age when much of children’s social or academic activity takes place on line. “I want to enable them to make good decisions and protect themselves as they venture out into the online world,” said Winterton. 


 SFIS professor and Risk Innovation Lab director Andrew Maynard co-authored an article on conscientious design and artificial intelligence. In “It's time for some messy, democratic discussions about the future of AI,” Maynard and co-author Jack Stilgoe of University College London describe the 1975 and 2017 Asilimar conferences which were convened to discuss guiding principles in scientific and technological fields. This year’s conference largely concerned AI and machine learning. The authors believe that Asilimar is a step in the right direction, but still needs to aspire to more inclusivity by incorporating citizen stakeholders.


SFIS professor Michael Bennett was quoted in an AZ Central article. In “Amid Trump trade tensions, does it make sense to invest globally?” Bennett noted the unpredictability of a global trade war, emphasizing that “fallout could as easily negatively impact U.S.-heavy equities portfolios as it could those full of foreign investments.” 


In the Media

 Daniel Sarewitz

CSPO co-director Daniel Sarewitz was featured in a piece for Science, Policy, Practice. Sarewitz expounded on post-normal science and what uncertainty means for scientists engaged in policy advising. In post-normal science, Sarewitz said, “it is always going to be incomplete, and it is always going to be subject to revision, and highly uncertain.” Elsewhere he addressed science and policy, “...when you bring science into the political debate, you have to pick and choose which science you want to use. You have to match that with particular priorities about what policy problems you want to solve.”


SFIS’s Robert Cook-Deegan was quoted by WIRED on the topic of patent deliberations regarding the revolutionary gene editing tools, Crispr and Cas-9, which finally reached a resolution with a decision by the U.S. Patent Trial and Appeal Board. In the event, both claimants — Broad/MIT Institute and University of California, Berkeley — were granted a share of the patents, though Broad/MIT was favored in the ruling: “UC’s claims to eukaryotic uses of Crispr-Cas9 will not be granted in the form they sought,” Cook-Deegan said. “That’s a big deal, and UC was the big loser.” He also commented on the topic in an article for STAT, this time expressing concern about how the decision could shape medical research and the value of honesty: “I hope scientists will continue to be honest and not succumb to being told they can’t say things that might undermine a broad patenting strategy.”

Cook-Deegan was also quoted in “Under Trump, scientists could face more sweeping challenges than they did under George W. Bush,” a Washington Post article. “Fear is higher,” said Cook-Deegan. “If you’re a federal employee, I think there’s going to be a level of self-scrutiny that is higher than it has been in past administrations.” He also suggested that medical research is in a more secure position than some other fields.

Michael Bennett, SFIS faculty, was quoted in the AZ Republic and USA Today regarding the global tension around trade since the new presidency has embraced “America First” policies. "The implications of a trade war or the eruption of upwardly cascading tariffs are virtually impossible to predict," said Bennett. “The fallout could as easily negatively impact U.S.-heavy equities portfolios as it could those full of foreign investments."

SFIS Director Dave Guston and Ed Finn, director of the Center for Science and the Imagination, were featured in a Cronkite news article and short video about the enduring relevance of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to modern science. “Victor Frankenstein continues to shadow new developments in synthetic biology and artificial intelligence, all these ways where we’re creating different types of life and how to deal with them,” Finn said, underlying the importance that scientists “think through the consequences.”