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Sunday, 6 September 2015

Global Systems Science, Art, Responsible Research and Innovation, and Behavioural Issues

And on the matter of time, earlier this year (2015) I made several inputs to the consultation on the European Commission’s FET Proactive Programme, and what follows is the first of these inputs:

Global Systems Science is self-evidently an important topic, but it is too narrowly conceived and needs to be broadened to become what I call a non-mechanistic and non-reductionist approach to science (it is not just a means of supporting policymaking). It is in this area, which can be called the reinvention of science, that the true potential of GSS will be realised.

GSS also needs to move beyond being interdisciplinary, to become transdisciplinary. It also needs to be founded on a better understanding that all actors involved in GSS are not as they might think, entirely rational, objective, and focused on evidence. There are important behavioural understandings that need to be incorporated into GSS, both in terms of those who practise GSS, and with regard to the subject matters that GSS addresses.

GSS also needs to be revised to take account of the Horizon 2020 Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) agenda. Again this is relevant to both GSS itself and the subject matters that it addresses. The means to address all five pillars of RRI should be explicitly build into the approach, and not just left to individual research projects to consider, which on the whole they will not, as RRI, to be realistic, is not on most people’s agenda, and few people truly understand it. RRI needs to become an explicit part of any GSS process or method.

GSS is also an area where artists should be integrated as key players, for this group of researchers are already exploring the above issues and one can say, transcending traditional disciplinary boundaries. Artists are at core, people who are constantly questioning that which others rarely think about, such as the relevance of science, as it is now, and ways in which it can be developed into something more sophisticated in terms of method and process. This is the value of art, for it offers different ways of seeing the world. And GSS is one area that needs to be seen differently.

I have more to say about GSS, art, and art’s role in FET and GSS, as well as the importance of Time for Time in a GSS context. All this I have explored in my input to the Time for Time consultation (which will be the subject of a blog in a few weeks).

Here I would now like to add an observation about GSS: it is founded in technocracy, being also the product of technocratic minds, and those caught-up in scientific positivism and scientism. It should therefore not be accepted by the public in the form that it has been proposed. People have the power to change the world and one way to do this is to develop alternatives to highly technocratic approaches such as GSS. Remember Jurgen Habermas’ warning about the hollowing-out of democracy. GSS in the form that it has been formulated is one of the ways that this hollowing-out will be achieved. It is now time to take a stand. And this is one of the ways we will achieve RRI. On no account should these matters be left in the hands of so-called experts.

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