Risk Governance of Pervasing Computing Technologies

By Piet Sellke and Ortwin Renn.

Published by The Technology Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Innovation in fields of risk technologies is not contingent merely on the reactions of those who are directly affected. It is also influenced by the wider public sphere. Taking into consideration the changing value structures in modern western societies, we expect that forces of the public sphere, particularly seen in the reactions of NGOs, the media and the public as citizens, as well as inter- and trans-disciplinary expert discourses, will become increasingly important factors determining technological innovations. Pervasive computing systems and its applications are good examples for this development, because they are seen as a systemic risk with a complex functional chain, and a high level of intrinsic uncertainty and ambiguity in regard to the value attachments of the societal actors. A risk governance framework is needed that includes technical risk assessment as well as social concern assessment. Further, subsequent to the evaluation of the specific risk within the framework, specific risk management strategies have to follow. The innovative power of the proposed risk governance framework thereby is the inclusion of the societal context and the classification of risk-related knowledge as uncertain, complex, or ambiguous. This framework and its application to the field of pervasive computing technologies will be outlayed. The results of stakeholder interviews will be used to illuminate the framework and to show its applicability and usability in the real-world context of pervasive computing technologies.

Keywords: Risk Governance, Pervasive Computing, Ubiquitous Computing, RFID, Smart Agents, Risk Perception, Innovation

The International Journal of Technology, Knowledge and Society, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp.215-224. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 600.914KB).

Piet Sellke

Researcher, Department of Technology and Environmental Sociology, University of Stuttgart, Stuttgart, Germany

Piet Sellke has studied sociology and political science at the University of Stuttgart as well as sociology at the University of Oregon (USA). Since 2004 Piet Sellke is researcher at the Institute for Social Sciences, since 2006 at the Department for Sociology of Technologies and Environment. His main research interests are qualitative and quantitative empirical research, risk perception, risk governance, and technology assessment. Currently Piet Sellke is project manager of the project “Emerging Opportunities and Emerging Risks: Reflexive Innovation and the Case of Pervasive Computing”, funded by the Volkswagen foundation. In 2007, Piet Sellke was also project manager of an external evaluation of the European Citizens’ Panel, a European participatory initiative.

Ortwin Renn

Director, Department of Sociology of the Environment and Technology, Dialogik non-profit research organization, University of Stuttgart, Stuttgart, Germany

Ortwin Renn serves as full professor and chair of environmental sociology at Stuttgart University. He directs the Interdisciplinary Research Unit for Risk Governance and Sustainable Technology Development (ZIRN) at the University of Stuttgart and the non-profit company DIALOGIK, a research institute for the investigation of communication and participation processes in environmental policy making. Since 2006 Renn has been elected Deputy Dean of the Economics- and Social Science Department and Acting Director of the Institute of Social Sciences at the University of Stuttgart. Ortwin Renn has a doctoral degree in sociology and social psychology from the University of Cologne. He is a member of the panel on “Public Participation in Environmental Assessment and Decision Making” of the U.S.-National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C., an ordinary member of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences (Berlin), the German Academy for Technology and Engineering, and the European Academy of Science and Arts (Vienna and Salzburg). His honours include an honorary doctorate from the Swiss Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich), the “Distinguished Achievement Award” of the Society for Risk Analysis (SRA) and the Outstanding Publication Award from the Environment and Technology Section of the American Sociological Association for the book: „Risk, Uncertainty and Rational Action“ co-authored by C. Jaeger, G. Rosa und Th. Webler. Among his many political advisory activities is his chairmanship of the State Commission for Sustainable Development (German State of Baden-Württemberg). Renn is primarily interested in risk governance, political participation and technology assessment. His has published more than 30 books and 250 articles.

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