With unprecedented powerful living technology on the horizon, it is more important than ever to ensure that we as citizens engage in the development and the realization of this technology. However, both science and technology have historically been invisible entities in the societal planning and the public discourse.
So the question is: How can science and technology become integral components of societal planning and public discourse? In the modern state science and technology are not part of the public debate. This is in stark contrast to strategic planning in the business world where science and technology are central components. This invisibility has huge societal costs as science and technology at an increasing pace change the human condition. The consequences of this invisibility are not new and they include unintended climate changes, violent globalization and immigration conflicts, as well as unrealistic dreams and fears of nanotechnology.
A possible solution to this profound problem would be to develop an initiative that addresses these issues through the introduction of a new institution in the modern state based on an integration of scientific approaches combined with a broad and deep stakeholder feedback. The initiative should focus activities on critical transdisciplinary science, society and policy issues and open new channels of communication between subcultures that rarely communicate to make science and technology an integral component of our reflection as we prepare for the future. Our work in PACE has shown that the time is ripe for such an initiative.
The PACE project engaged in a series of workshops and working groups that evaluated the social and ethical consequences of Artificial Cell research beyond the boundaries of traditional biology. A consensus guideline document for scientists and regulatory bodies was achieved that is referenced as part of this report.