Nonknowledge and Real World Experiments

Speaker: Matthias Gross # Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research

30th Jan 2017

15:30 - 17:00

Staff room, 6th Floor, Chrystal Macmillan Building.

Abstract

This presentation departs from the observation that in modern science there is an increasing tendency to unload risky research processes from the laboratory into the wider society and instead focusses on strategies to proactively shaping science in society understood as part of a longer-term “large-scale” experiment. Recent debates on geoengineering, urban planning, vaccination strategies, transportation, renewable energy testing, or aquaculture experiments suggest that increasingly it is the experimental setup in society that is there first, with the activities normally associated with a laboratory setting only being decided upon and implemented post hoc. Of crucial importance here is the “experimental” acknowledgement of ignorance (nonknowledge) in lieu of “risk” since the notion of risk may no longer apply to many of these new areas of science, technology, and innovation in the 21st century. This raises questions on the attribution of responsibilities and the organization of scientific knowledge production in general since ignorance is readily apparent and often even accepted within different practitioner and engineering cultures but yet largely denied by policy makers or civil society groups.