Many emerging biotechnologies have the potential to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals. However, emerging technologies are generally characterized by large degrees of uncertainty concerning both their efficacy vis-a-vis their intended effects, as well as potential unintended impacts they might have - whether these are in the sphere of health or environmental safety, sustainability, or societal order or morality.
Anticipating these aspects is a complex but valuable process. If done well, it can support the development of biotechnologies that meet societal needs and do so responsibly. Because: what works in the lab generally speaking requires an entire system to ensure its effectiveness in the real world. And carefully considering possible futures can help wrap your head around conditions that need to be met in such system - or could even help in (re-)designing the system bottom-up.
With this in mind, in a project commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, the Athena Institute is developing a learning tool to help young biotechnologists anticipate the way their projects may interact with the world, and to help them to integrate these insights into their socio-technical design efforts in biotechnology. This tool invites biotechnologists to consider how they might increase their projects' positive impact on the world, while simultaneously decreasing their potential negative impacts. Practicing anticipation, design and reflection, from a transdisciplinary perspective, is key to this. This tool aspires to support you in doing so.