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OECD BNCT

Project on Harnessing Convergence for the Next Production Revolution (OECD BNCT)

Project on Harnessing Convergence for the Next Production Revolution (OECD BNCT)

 

The rapid advancement of convergence and the Next Production Revolution (NPR) are necessitating a timely adaptation of governance approaches. On one hand, such modernised approaches must address the ground-breaking changes imposed on the existing systems and models, and on the other hand, they must accommodate an inherent technology-flexibility, in order to account for the ever faster system changes that such revolutionary enabling technologies induce.

As societies begin to see the impacts of convergence and NPR, policy makers in many countries are struggling to understand the socio-economic medium- and long-term impact of these changes. In particular, policy makers need to understand, how convergence and NPR are changing the parameters of production (e.g. the regional distribution of labour, the labour skills required, the distribution of profits, the infrastructure required, the societal changes induced, and the importance of local resources, labour force, and knowhow, to name but a few).  They also seek to improve the performance of policies meant to engage this arena – from science and innovation policy to governance.

The OECD’s Working Party on Biotechnology, Nanotechnology and Converging Technologies (BNCT) has now set out, in order to assess both the impact of technologies undergoing a convergence and the impact of policies affecting those technologies.

Methodology

 

Answers to the two key-questions of the project will be obtained by means of elaborating three concrete Technology Application Case-Study that have been selected to cover different technology-readiness-levels (TRLs):

  • Robots in consumer-goods manufacturing as a high TRL example of automation and robotics in the manufacturing environment: these technologies are already widely used in industry, but they are also continuously advancing through technology convergence, and their applications are increasingly widened to new application areas of NPR,
  • Autonomous vehicles as a medium TRL example of Cyber-Physical and Social Systems (CPS2) (e.g. a technology or service that is based on digital algorithms and that makes increasing use of individual data on behavioural and social patterns), and
  • Cyborgs (i.e. human cogno-info implants) as a low TRL example of functional human-machine interfaces (e.g. personalised regenerative engineering, chip-implants, human enhancement, etc.).

In order to assess both the impact of technologies undergoing a convergence and the impact of policies affecting those technologies, a two-tier approach has been developed. In both tiers, the need for non- traditional approaches of assessment coming from the social sciences and humanities (SSH) and the concepts of responsible research and innovation (RRI) is given specific consideration.

Convergence for NPR Project Scheme

Project Tier 1: This stage of the project is centred around Project Workshop 1, where a technology foresight exercise will be conducted, which combines elements of Technology Assessment (TA) (i.e. in particular the elements of “Scenario Workshops” and “Co-operative Discourse”).

Project Tier 2: This stage of the project is centred around Project Workshop 2, where a policy assessment will be conducted, based on the findings of Tier 1. The main policy families identified in Tier 1 are assessed with regard to their applicability to an increasingly complex and converging technology landscape. 

Objectives

 

This project aims to find answers to the following key-questions:

1.    How does convergence impact areas of science, technology and innovation, and which (changes to existing) policies are needed, in order to make public policies fit for the advent of convergence?

2.    How have convergence and NPR changed innovation practices in firms?

The answers to these questions will ultimately contribute to the development of a guidance framework for a future policy assessment that is sufficiently flexible to accommodate rapid technological advances.

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