Deliberating Risks Under Uncertainty: Experience, Trust,and Attitudes in a Swiss Nanotechnology Stakeholder Discussion Group
Burri, Regula Valérie
Vol. 1, Num. 2
Burri feels that those who have a stake in nanotechnology would prefer to see upstream public engagement as a way to safeguard against disappointment, should a losing technology be pursued. The author looks at a Swiss public panel that was brought together in 2006 to determine the narratives that constitute the epistemic foundations of the participants evaluations of nanotechnologies. The idea of the publifocus was not only to help scientists understand the feelings of the lay public about nanotechnology, but also for their opinions to help drive the field in a useful direction. The participants in the panel ended up being largely positive about the future of nanotechnology, and though they expressed some misgivings about the risks involved, they were more interesting in getting more information before passing judgment than in calling for immediate and blanket regulation. In the end, what this said to the author is that the people called upon their basic knowledge of science to confront a field with which they were not familiar, and their lack of mistrust toward general science shone through.