fbpx The Impact of Science and Technology on Society with Sheila Jasanoff | Harvard Kennedy School

May 11, 2022

What is the role of science and technology in the law, politics, and policy of modern democracies? What difference does it make that we live in scientifically and technologically advanced societies? What is the meaning of science and technology in the everyday lives of individuals, social groups, and nations? Watch this Wiener Conference Call with Sheila Jasanoff, winner of the prestigious Holberg Prize.

Wiener Conference Calls recognize Malcolm Wiener’s role in proposing and supporting this series as well as the Wiener Center for Social Policy at Harvard Kennedy School.

- [Narrator] Welcome to the Wiener Conference Calls series. These one hour on the record phone calls feature leading experts from Harvard Kennedy School, who answer your questions on public policy and current events. Wiener Conference Calls recognize Malcolm Wiener's role in proposing and supporting this series, as well as the Wiener Center for Social Policy at Harvard Kennedy School.

- Good day, everyone. I'm Ralph Renalli, from the office of communications and public affairs and the host of the Harvard Kennedy School's "PolicyCast," podcast. And I'm very pleased to welcome you to this Wiener Conference Call, which is kindly sustained by Dr. Malcolm Wiener, who supports the Kennedy School in this and many other ways. Today we're joined by professor Sheila Jasanoff, who is the founder and director of the program on science, technology and society, and the four timer professor of science and technology studies at Harvard Kennedy School. Professor Jasanoff is a leading scholar at the intersection of science, technology, law, democratic theory and public policy. Her work has tackled pressing global challenges, including climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic and biotechnology such as gene editing. Arguing for a democratization of science and technology that more fully includes society in the conversation. She's an influential writer in the field of STS having authored or co-authored 10 books and edited or co-edited eight others. She's also written more than 130 articles and book chapters. And in March, it was announced that she has been awarded the 2022 Holberg Prize, which is among the world's most prestigious awards for academic work in the humanities and social sciences. We are very fortunate that she has agreed to share her expertise today with the Kennedy School's alumni and friends, Sheila. Sheila, I believe you're on mute.

- Thank you for that introduction, Ralph, and also above all thank you for the opportunity to present to the Kennedy School's friends on this topic that is so dear to my heart. So without waiting further because I'd like to save as much time for Q and A as possible. Let me share my screen and go through the slides that I prepared for this first part of our time together. So what I've done in effect, I want to go back, screen. What I want to do in effect is to offer a little tasters choice menu because I want some positive, what aspect of our work to focus on. And I suspect that the people keying into the call will come from a variety of different angles. So I continually remember a meeting that I had when I was beginning my work on law and science. And I think I wrote the first book that sort of attempted to map out the relationships between law and science. And it was funded by the, what was then called the 20th Century Fund, and they had a cocktail party for us at a political science association meeting. And I met one of their other grantees and he said to me, "What are you writing about? Is there really anything to write about in the relationship between science, technology and law?" And so today when I begin my graduate seminar, I often just troll through the days headlines in one newspaper, I often pick the "New York Times," and just pick out headlines that in a sense answer that young man's question or he was young then and so was I. And just show people the enormous number and variety of ways in which our world throws up questions for public policy that relate to the intersections of science, technology and society, so this is literally from a last night's collection of headlines in the "New York Times," of different stories. And you see everything that you might be interested in appearing there, so there's the digital world, there's the environmental world, there's war and peace, there's international relations, there is the economy, there's, COVID, COVID, COVID, there's particular people like Bill Gates and the very bottom most one, the $200,000 facelift is a reminder that we are of course, very conscious at the Kennedy School, that is equality and inequality are phenomena that have to some extent been exacerbated by the advances in science and technology and that is something that we want to think about very seriously as well. So one could not in today's present, not to mention thinking about the future, fail to see that science and technology are terrifically important, things to understand, not just grapple with, not just to encourage, not just to push forward like we do in the school of engineering and applied science, but also for public policy to take on board and think about in very serious ways, so what is my program doing about it? So we are a very small program, we only have one faculty line and everything else is happening at the moment on soft money, so you have to understand that point about scale, as I run through the things that we're doing. Nevertheless, small things, if they're atomic and force can set big things going. And our ambition is to be a generative, but also continuing source of theory driven research on current policy problems that are associated with scientific and technological change. And there you have a series of the major grants that we are managing at the moment, the socio-technical transformations have to do with sustainability. The COVID is self explanatory. Genome editing is self explanatory. The summer school is one of our outreach programs that I'm happy to talk about later. And Trust in Science is just something that has been on everybody's lips in the last couple of years and that is something where we are heading out of our program, the Trust in Science project that is part of the Harvard data science initiative.

- [Margaret] Hi, professor, I'm so sorry to interrupt you. This is Margaret, I'm gonna share my screen because we're unable to see the slides. Is that okay with you?

- That's okay, I wonder why that is the case.

- [Margaret] Do you wanna try one more time? Sorry , sorry about this.

- Well, I think you should just go ahead and share, I don't, I mean, I did everything that I normally do, but definitely having internet problems with this interface since the beginning, so I think you'd better do it.

- [Margaret] Okay.

- But then I have to be able to see it as well.

- [Margaret] Can you see my screen?

- Yeah, thank you.

- [Margaret] Okay, yes.

- So I was looking, I just ran through these grants and I won't bother repeating that, but just to give you an idea that whether it's the climate interface or data and trust or innovation, or of course COVID and gene editing, we are there with actual research that we're carrying out. Could we have the next slide then, please? This is just a visual display of what that means in terms of the Kennedy School's outreach to different things. And so beginning with the top left, we manage a couple of different networks at different professional levels, the science and democracy network is a network of young and mid-career scholars that we sustain. But we've added to that a network of graduate researchers in the field of STS. These are anchored in the Kennedy School and they have different kinds of meetings and activities. We have connections to take move across to the top right corner with other programs around Harvard. So we are also an anchor for cross school and cross disciplinary activities. And those are the names of some of the enterprises we're connected to. We believe very much in public outreach and we have two different major programs that have been running for 15 years, at least, the STS Circle, which is a weekly seminar series and the Science and Democracy Lectures, which are sort of premier event once a semester, where we bring together very high level speakers with scholars and practitioners throughout Harvard. And that has proved to be a very engaging occasion for public involvement as well. And then of course we are deeply engaged in teaching and I'll come back to that for the end of my presentation, but our teaching also crosses lines. It reaches out to the faculty of arts and sciences. We teach in the gen ed program. We teach in the engineering school and also through the graduate school by offering a minor or secondary field in STS. And the point is that all of this is anchored in the Kennedy School with the program leadership, with the academic advising, with core instruction and increasingly with website and social media. So let's go on. So I want to give you two examples of the ways in which we have jumped onto issues, but also stayed abreast of them. I mean, so the point I want to make is that to deal with the present and the immediate future you often have to be embedded in a longstanding engagement with these issues. So with regard to the life sciences and society, which is one of the big frontiers of innovation, our ambition is, and has been to be the powerhouse of thought on science, technology and society in this era of genetic genomic and post genomic revolutions that we are seeing in society. So about 20 years ago we formed something that we called the Biology and Society Collaboratory. That thing in its turn gave way to what we have now, which is much more international, it's called the Global Observatory for Genome Editing. And we are grappling with some of the questions at the frontiers of policy in particular, should the human germ line be edited, and if so, under what conditions? But because we're a policy school, we deal with the democratic side of it, who participates in these decisions? Who decides and by what processes? So if we go onto the next slide, we were prepared to leap onto these issues, when in December, 2015, the National Academies of Sciences together with leading scientific organizations in China and in Britain formed the first international summit. And we wanted to steer the discussion away from scientific self-governance because those of us who study science, technology and society do not believe that it's adequate to govern the frontiers of technology by delegating the governance power to the scientists themselves. Other people have to be involved as well. So in April, 2017, we had a meeting in which we proved what it would mean to achieve a broad societal consensus on genome editing. And if we go on, one result of that meeting was that we had a multi-author set of articles, but one of them was this idea of CRISPR democracy. CRISPR is the name of the gene editing technology that has become almost a word of record. So inclusive deliberation, how does one include people into deliberation on these frontiers technologies? And with that, if we go to the next slide, we have held a series of very well attended at high level meetings for the last five years. So the first meeting was five years ago, that 2017 meeting that I already gave you the, pointed to, and we called it editorial aspirations. What is it that scientists and technologists, but also society at large, what we aspire to when we adopt genetic editing technologies? And then by a couple of years later in 2019, as you see in the middle poster, people had really started wondering what the limits should be and should there be a moratorium? And then in effect COVID came along and put a moratorium that we hadn't expected onto a lot of things. And now just at the end of this week, we're having a five year retrospective with some of the most prominent voices internationally and otherwise thinking about institutional bioethics. So what I want to illustrate with this progression of slides is not just that the program makes pretty pictures, but that we believe in really staying closely tied to the issues that we're studying and staying at the forefront of these debates and continually returning with other sorts of questions, who is being excluded, who is being included, what kinds of issues are being framed and are they being framed well or poorly? This is part of what we are continually engaged with. Now, if we go on, a second example I wanted to give was, how it is said that prepared minds are the best things to have because then surprises don't hit us in the same way. So when COVID landed in that extremely shocking way for us at Harvard on March 13th, 2020, in a sense our research community and we in the STS program at the Kennedy School were prepared to start doing something about it. In part, this was because we have academic networks that are very significant. And in this case what was tremendously significant was that I had deep collegial relationships with Cornell. So I know that many people believe that universities isolate themselves and do not reach out to others. This is in part a story about how outreach matters. So my colleagues, Steven Hill Gardner at Cornell, and I co-launched, and let's go on, a project that had initially only nine countries we were looking at, but then all of our colleagues in all of these other countries jumped onto the project because they recognized that we could offer a kind of leadership. And we ended up with 16 countries and two affiliates. And for the last two years we've been studying in detail the development of policies related to COVID 19 in all of these countries. And when I speak of a network, if we go to the next slide, this has been a tremendous project that has brought together 16 countries, two affiliates, as I just mentioned, 39 institutions and 59 researchers. And you might be wondering what sort of budget does all this take? Well, our budget has been in the six figures and in the modest six figures because it's the human connections that I've counted, but several of our colleagues, for example, those in Japan and those in France and in the UK have been able to raise their own parallel funding. And much of it has actually been happening on volunteer time, but people are just deeply interested in pursuing their research together because they see that the collective is more important than the individual pieces. And that has been so uplifting to me in this time of isolation that I can't even begin to tell you how much it has meant. Let's go on. So I want to discuss a little bit about the findings of this project because obviously it's not just nice to have conversations with ones colleagues, but is one discovering things. So one thing we have discovered is that it would be a problem to just look at how the health system has responded to the pandemic, that we have to look concurrently at the economic system and the political system. And our project has made some theoretical advances that I think are quite important by looking at these three systems operating together. Let's go on. So one of the first things we discovered was that there are patterned responses and they relate to the ways in which these three systems can be synchronized or not synchronized. And we identified these three broad patterns, which people found very intriguing. We found that some countries with so-called control countries, these days, I'm sure you've been reading about China's zero COVID policy and why it seems to be breaking down and perhaps not working so well. But we found that there was a cluster of countries not only in east Asia because Australia also belonged to this group. And not only authoritarian in the Chinese sense, but also in the democratic sense of Taiwan and sort of guided democracy like in Singapore and democracy like in South Korea, that these countries had tried to keep the virus up. That was the focus of their control policies and they formed one package. And for each of these columns, we identified different ways in which they had approached the health issue, the economy issue and the politics issue. And as I say, these were all intertwined. Then there were the consensus country where the epitome is perhaps Germany, where the virus could not be kept out. The virus was prevalent, but the political system and policy system as a whole came to consensus around the key findings and the key policy recommendations, especially in the first year of the coronavirus. And we can talk a little bit more about this if you're interested. And then there were the chaotic countries where the center of governance was unclear, and whether you looked at the economy or the politics or the health, there was no sense of a society marching together. And so in the second year of the crisis, we've been asking explanatory questions and we've also been deepening and enlarging our research base in various ways that I'd be happy to talk about, but mindful of the time we have let's go on. So a question right now in 2022 is where does this research reach and what is the STS program looking at in terms of where we believe breakthroughs are to be made in research that relates to public policy? So one big cluster is around our ideas of democracy and particularly as looked up with digitization, the rapid flow of information, the sharing of information on social media and one very particular focus that we have is a set of research that we're channeling for the Harvard Data Science Initiative. And again, I'd be happy to talk in detail about it, but the Trust in Science project is thus far privately sponsored program through which we are trying to build a network of inner Harvard resources. So we're trying to break down research silos within Harvard using our knowledge and our capacities for networking in the Kennedy School to create more bang for buck by putting major researchers together studying different dimensions of the trust in science problem. We're also deeply involved in studying sustainability and we have an ongoing comparative research project involving five countries, UK, Germany, Kenya, India, and the US. And we're looking particularly at energy transformations and what makes them sustainable in a similarly related way, but a bit more futuristic. We're looking at climate governance and how geoengineering factors into a world where institutions are not exactly marching in lockstep. And yet this is a planetary scale technology that is geared toward addressing some of the most pressing problems of climate change. And last but not least a project that is extremely dear to my heart is this Global Observatory and Genome Editing that I've already mentioned. And what we're exploring there, trying to probe there, is there scope for cosmopolitan bioethics? And by that we mean that people do not have to buy into exactly the same notions of what life is or what we owe to it because we will not get 100% agreement around the world, but can we find the principles on which we can coexist with people who are doing different, who have different belief systems? And given the debate that I'm sure you are all aware of around Roe V. Wade, you will notice that cosmopolitanism is not just an idea of the international discussion, but even within our own society, how do we find the ways to coexist with moralities that are profoundly different around the question of life and the image there is just to show you that our program small as it is draws strength from relationships that we have built across the Kennedy School and across the university. So this is a program that we hosted just a few days ago on May 4th, and it was titled a Right to Truth with a question mark, can we pause something like this as part of human rights that would give us a basis for regulating things like the spread of misinformation? But we collaborated there with the Carr Center for Human Rights at the Kennedy School and also with the Oxford Internet Institute. So it's an example of how we believe that small things turned into collaborative projects can achieve bang for the buck more than we actually have in the way of resources. So let me conclude with a few more things about the program and then open it up, so let's go on. So this is just a list of some of the kinds of institutions that come to the STS program at Harvard for advice, for lectures, for input of different sorts. And these are just some of the things that some of the entities that we have recently advised or spoken to, or given some of our time to, and you will see that they are very international. Some of them come to us for things about ethics, some of them come for things about risk, like the French agency for food, environmental, occupational, health and safety is very interested in risk management. Like the European Food Safety Authority, the national academies have come to us on bio-security issues and on security issues more broadly. The Thailand Institute of Justice wants us to talk to them about technology and law. Anyway, so you see a huge variety of clients for our work throughout the world, really. And then going on, I deeply believe in teaching as the center of our mission and this diagram shows you how we have been building across time. And the secondary field is a minor that we anchor in the Kennedy School, but is available to PhD students throughout Harvard. And there with the colors, you see the different schools that are sending students in effect to the Kennedy School to learn about science, technology and society. You see a little bit of COVID impact there, but it is in my view very much a growth industry. And it's a demonstration of how a minor field can really energize people that are scattered throughout Harvard and our presidents, Lawrence Bacow, now, they like to speak about one Harvard, but this is something that articulates that belief and shows you how we are tackling it. And then similarly, the courses that we offer with their different enrollments also show a similar kind of outreach across the university. And there's a huge richness from these students sitting together in the same room, different ages, different professional backgrounds talking to one another. So I hope you'll see that side as a little bit of a kind of vision of pedagogy also, accompanying the research, the training, the policy advice on the public outreach. And if we move on, there are websites, I'd be happy to share these, but these are some of the places where more information can be found. And then continuing with that, I'd like to thank you for your attention and return to full screen mode and take your questions.

- Well, thank you very much, Sheila. Now, we're gonna open the session up for your questions. So to ask a question, please use the virtual hand raising feature of Zoom and in true Kennedy School fashion, we're gonna ask you to do two things. One, keep your question brief. And two, please make sure that it ends in a question mark. You'll be notified via Zoom's chat feature when it's your turn to speak. And when it is, please make sure that you unmute yourself when you hear from the staff. Finally, I think all our participants would appreciate it if you could state your Kennedy School affiliation before you ask your question. We're gonna get things started by asking question that was submitted earlier by Sarah Spencer, who's an PP, 2006. And that question is, Sheila, "How will the race for technological dominance affect global stability? And how might the quest for strategic advantage in science and technology, particularly thinking about the US, the UK and the EU, impact the existing architecture around the constraints on state power and the systems for interstate dialogue and security cooperation?"

- So if I could really answer that question, then I would deserve some kind of place on Mount Olympus or some place where I could enjoy miraculous status. I think that the framing of a question that way is challenging, but also perhaps too broad. I mean, so technological dominance, what does it mean? I mean, does it mean control of the rare earths that we need in order to make computers? Does it mean having the kinds of populations who will not rebel against technology? Does it mean the kind of ongoing investment, like an mRNA research that resulted in one of the most rapid breakthroughs in vaccine technology that we have ever witnessed. And what are these technologies for anyway? I mean, so I think in the mind of people who worry about technological dominance is a very important concern and it is the concern for national security as it has been defined to some extent in the Pentagon's terms, I myself think that a better society to be secure has to look at the bottom end of the scale as well. How good is its governance structure, how flexible and adaptive and resilient is it as a society? So I think that the worries to me about technological dominance need to be themselves picked apart in terms of sub-fields and units. And there I think that, maybe if America were true to itself, the worries would be less than if we just think, well, who's going to get ahead in the cyber security game? I mean, as I say, these are not, I mean, it's an entwined braided world that we live in and no strand is independent of the others. You don't have a braid without all the pieces being continually woven together. But I think that thinking of it as a race where people are ahead and behind and the lanes are clearly marked, to me, understates the problem and you can only run a horse race with blinders on. I mean, so I think that is a big problem and we need to have these crosscutting conversations that may not be a satisfying answer. And I myself am involved in some of these lanes as well because I see the importance, but I see my role inside of any of these lanes as being to some degree a reminder, look to the right, look to the left, look behind where you came from and then look ahead. But as I say that is not as sufficiently targeted strategically pointed answer. I will say that people who think of solutions without looking right, left and behind often come up with the wrong solutions.

- I think our next participant is ready to ask their question. Please identify yourself, state your affiliation with the Kennedy School and ask away.

- [Pedro] Thank you, Ralph. Hi, professor Jasanoff. My name is Pedro Henrique de Cristo, and I'm the head of Navi, the Brazilian green deal together with the Labor Party and the Institute to Lula, the institute of former president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. And one of the key things, like listening to you speaking, that we worry about here in Navi, in Brazil. And also in the consortium, we are working together with South Africa and India, is the fact that we have two levels in the challenge of technological inclusion. We have the national levels between the rich and the poor as you always state, but we also have international dispute of technological inequality with a huge risk for countries like mine and the whole majority world, Latin America, Africa and Asia, of technological new colonialism. We have seen for instance that even for global problems that are interconnected like the pandemic, not breaking the patents of the vaccines, that by the way were developed, the mRNA, with public money, is a major issue that we still have to face. So I would like to ask you, how do you see the best pathway for a more inclusive and technological development within our societies, but also in the global stage between the countries in the majority world and the rich countries like the US and European Union and in northeast Asia? Thank you.

- I mean, that again is one of these million dollar questions and does not have a simple answer because I think there is no single best way, very smart minds work on these things. And if there were a best way, they would've found it, by the time the best way is found, things have often moved on and there's a new problem on the horizon. But I think that if we look at particular institutions and particular structuring elements in the system of innovation, for instance, there are places that we can point to that have deep problems in them. So we have a World Health Organization, but we have already seen that if the US pulls out of it, that organization would essentially be left without any teeth at all because the funding has come disproportionately from one country and if that country chooses to pull out, then that entire structure of global data management equalization to some extent, that is suddenly pulled apart. I mean, so we have to go to particular international institutions and revisit them if we're really serious about global governance, we have to get serious about things like the funding and not leave them vulnerable to these kinds of sudden opt in, opt out decisions that respond to national politics and not to global need. We have seen emerge in Africa a positive development of a regional sort. And you mentioned this international connection as well. So I think that part of the place of imagination is not to think of the world only in rich north, poor south terms. I mean, of course that's no longer true anyway, and Brazil is one of the big leaders in demonstrating that is not the case. But if you think about what unites, for instance, the brick countries. Today, it's also forms of governance that have not been particularly hospitable to innovation. I mean, so India, which I know a great deal about is having enormous amounts of problems with universities and free speech and these kinds of questions, but it's also inquiry. I mean, scientific and technological inquiry are known to thrive in places where it's not a popularity contest with the leadership and there are historical examples where this does not work very well. So I think we have to look at these regional coalitions and see what kinds of values they're pressing forward in science and technology. And one last thing I'll say that's not often talked about, but intellectual property regimes really need to be looked at as well because they so much constrain the flow of information. I mean, in theory we all buy into this idea that information is free flowing and we have a free market of ideas and so forth, but in practice people are continually, I mean, even within this country, we have not fully resolved the patent disputes over CRISPR technology between the east coast and the west coast. I mean, it's not just an international problem, it's a problem that goes deeper. So again, it's too bad that my answer to many questions is pull apart the question into its component parts or constituent parts and you'll find that we need to tackle several systems concurrently. But unfortunately that is the case in our multisystemic, polycentric world. And I think an awareness of that is kind of essential.

- Great, well, we have a question that was submitted in the chat, which I will read. And that question is from Jonathan Wiener of Duke University, "Could you say more about your work on geoengineering governance and democratization? What issues or options are you exploring? Thanks." And he has a parenthetical note. "We have recently published a paper on solar radiation modification and risk, risk analysis."

- Well, Jonathan, welcome, and thank you for being in the audience and I'm happy to see that your risk, risk interests which go, I think even further back than your affiliation with the Kennedy School, are still propelling you to this day. So the governance challenges that we are exploring to some extent relate to the ways in which questions have been framed and what structures are there are, or not there. So one of the things that concerns me particularly as an STS scholar is the kind of boundary drawing by which certain things are taken out of discussion, out of democratic discussion. One of these is a kind of force segmentation between what is pure research and what is applied research. I happen to think that everything related to geoengineering falls, if anywhere on the applied side of the boundary, but I also think that boundary doesn't make intellectual sense. And most people these days are undertaking research because they think it will lead to some kind of betterment for humanity down the line. But if we are thinking about, this goes back to the rich country, poor country point, if we're talking about research that is very advanced in some parts of the world, but we'll have their impact largely in other parts of the world, what does accountability look like? Now, you are an environmentalist, but you are also a lawyer. And I think you are very versed in the challenges of international law and the absences of international institutions. So I think very specifically, one of the things we are looking at is how do accountability systems get created when the power to frame questions and to develop technological responses to questions as framed when that power is very unequally large. I'm not, simply through lack of time and resources, I'm not the person who creates the institutional spaces that are experimental. I mean, you have to turn to a John Dryzek and the case of genome editing, or perhaps a Martin Hyer for sustainable technologies and Australia and the Netherlands respectively. But we at the Kennedy School at some extent supplying the ideas that those colleagues who are more into the hands on implementation side of things are put into use in various ways. So I hope that's the beginning of an answer.

- Great, well, we have some pre-submitted questions from members of the audience who had registered for this call and I'd like to turn to one of those now, it's a little bit long, so you're gonna have to bear with me, but I actually quite like it. "In my lifetime," and this is the participant's voice, not mine, "In my lifetime, the digital revolution brought forth technologies that few in our generation either anticipated or desired, far from granting us greater leisure, devices and platforms and interconnectivity have complicated our lives in the name of convenience to the point where a few, if anybody understands how they function alone or together, I doubt we can escape the matrix with or without pills. Given our near total dependency on the digital domain, does this signify a user patient of human agency by this cult, AI ridden, all embracing substrate. What hope do you hold out for human agency and civil society in a technocratic multiverse in which our technocratic capitalist society, no one assumes accountability or will be held responsible for events and decisions that rule our faiths?"

- That is a pessimistic take on the world, but it is a take that is something that I take extremely seriously. So my work has been in a kind of social science that is not the dominant one in the Kennedy School. So in the Kennedy School the science of economics is the one that is most represented. And in general around Harvard, what we call the interpretive social sciences are not that well represented. So just a very quicky definition, the interpretive social sciences are the ones that look at how we attach meaning to things, whereas the sort of positive social sciences are the ones that try to create data and draw from the ways in which people behave, regularities and laws, and then cluster solutions around those laws. Now, it turns out that the positive social sciences are continually bumping up against the fact that they modeled society wrong because they misunderstood the actual drivers, motivations, where people are coming from. The most famous example may be Francis Fukuyama's end of history idea in 1990, when he thought that now that the two big political systems, capitalist and communist had dissolved in favor of capitalism, there would not be struggle. So I think at the very least we would have to say that judgment was premature. So interpretive social sciences try to take the question of what we believe and how we respond to things and their agency, which was at the core of this question, becomes deeply significant, who has agency, who feels they can and who has the resources with which to change the world? As a humanist by confession, I worry very much about that question and the sort of story that was embedded in the question that these technologies are out of control and nobody can understand them, I think was part of the question. And there's huge train that we have set in motion and there's no way to stop it. Partly we have to remember that this all happened in a very short span of time. It's a little bit like ozone depletion, that also happened in a very short span of time. Everybody thought that chlorofluorocarbon were really incredibly safe, stable. They did not seem to be toxic. And then guess what? It turned out that they were not toxic to us as far as we know, but they certainly were toxic to the ozone layer and suddenly the ozone layer began to be depleted and it took us a while to figure this out and see it. But when I was saying before that I think you have to look to the right and left and not just straight down the alley that you're on. This was a big reminder and I think similarly with the internet, we've had this sort of sudden burst of concealed toxicity that we should have been actually smart enough to foresee and we didn't, so what is the answer now? Well, first of all, people have got to agree on what is toxic and not continually carry on in fundamentalist, I am the first amendment person and I believe in full speech and therefore I will acquire a social media platform as the sole owner of it and have whoever wants to speak in it speak in whatever ways. What does that actually do to human agency? What does it do to human agency if some people have the capacity to reach 83 million people in one day and the rest of us have no followers or 123 followers. I mean, this power is not equally distributed. So I think we have to take the question of the human seriously. Where is it that our technologies are depriving us of the capacity to act as humans? This is not a new question. This is something that the industrial revolution forced upon philosophers of technology and subsequently STS scholars like myself and people have been thinking about it for a very long time. I think we should be thinking about it more centrally inside of the Kennedy School. I think that there should be a much more integrated approach to thinking about policy itself as a technology and whether it is empowering people or disempowering people. Do we have alternatives in various places of technological solutions that maybe fast, but disempowering or slow, but empowering? How would we even measure those things? How would we describe them? So these are some of the questions that I think are at the heart of what sometimes seems to be a losing battle. I mean, I will tell you the humanities and the humanistic social sciences are not the places where money is flowing to, these are not the things that people build buildings for. They're not the places where they give half billion dollar research grants, they give that to studies of artificial intelligence. I personally think that non-artificial intelligence needs a lot more attention before we decide to go whole hub for the artificial kind.

- Well, Sheila, I'm glad you brought up the dominance of economics in our discourse because I have a question of my own. I recently recorded an episode of "PolicyCast," with your STS colleague, Dani Rodrik, who is of course an economist, but also one who is a very critical at times of his own discipline. And one of the things we talked about was reconnecting economics to democracy. And I've always been fascinated about the place that democracy holds in STS studies. And I'm interested in your thoughts on the ongoing threats to democratic governance both here in the United States and abroad and how they're affecting our ability to have an informed society that's appropriately skeptical of science and technology and a scientific community that's responsive to skepticism and human considerations?

- Well, I can say that, first of all, that question is at the heart of every one of the research projects that I've described at the STS program is undertaking. But it goes pretty deep, I mean, one of the things that I have argued is that today we don't really have a full blown theory of democracy unless we look at the ways, and this goes back to the previous question as well, to what extent and in what ways have we actually delegated power to the technological systems without even hardly recognizing it? So ever since the Europeans adopted their GDPR, their regulation on data protection, there's much more of the time that you visit a new site and something pops up saying, something about privacy settings. But in those privacy settings, the presumption is that you will give up your information unless you are restricted. So one of the things that we do in the Kennedy School and people who are associated with us have developed, like and the law school, is nudge theory, in which one major conclusion that has emerged is that whether you opt into a system or opt out of the system is deeply consequential. So tell me why we have to opt out of the system in which all our information is available? Why don't we rather have to opt into a system where we can selectively decide which information we choose to give up or not? I don't think it's possible to have agency, and without agency, no democracy. If our minds are made transparent, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were geared toward protecting something that in my language I'll call interiority. The idea that there is an interior, the chief justice even decided that cell phones are part of that interiority when he said, when he wrote the opinion saying that cell phones may not be searched without a search warrant. I think he acknowledged something quite deep there that what is being protected is not the cell phone, it's the connection of the cell phone to our minds in such a way that we've made it the repository of a bunch of different things. So to get democracy back and away from this kind of runaway sense, I think we have to rediscover the tools and use them intelligently and passionately to ask questions about why policy looks a certain way and not a different way. Now, my economist friends often say to me that they don't frame the questions, that they are tool makers. You come to them with a question, any question, they will tell you the efficient way, sometimes the fair way of allocating resources so that you can get answers. So I guess, what I say is that my kind of science says I'm not content with the questions as framed. Give me a question and I'll restate for you and then maybe we'll go to the economist and build up bridges.

- Thank you, well, I think we have time for just about one more question and this one comes from Juan Santa Cruz, he is in our audience and he is an alum of the MPA program. And his question is, "A few years ago you wrote an article called Technologies of Humility, highlighting the idea of bringing everyone's view, especially the less advantaged to a particular decision, that requires time and a technology for conversation like what we have now in any Congress. Nonetheless, traditional institutions for conversation in liberal democracy seems outdated. In light of the imediacy of today's world, do you think we need a new way of organizing liberal democracies?"

- Juan, for those of you who may not know is one of those rare people who decided that he would take his Kennedy School education, but converted into the work of liberal democracies in a sense by engaging in active politics in Chile. And it is a challenging yet friendly question. So Juan, you were speaking from a country in which the answer to that question has been emphatically, yes. I mean, you've had one of the most vibrant civil demonstrations month after month to say that we need to recon, Chileans need to reconstitute their particular democracy. And you've also had a new constitution and you've also had an election. So I don't think, in the US we are a bit complacent, we think that our Constitution was perfected at the moment that it was written. And I think that to some degree an answer to your question is that we have to take the liberal democracies of the world of where they are at, diagnose the particular pathologies and not try to come up with a one size fits all answer to liberal democracy. There are different flavors of liberal democracy and ours does well at certain kinds of things and not so well at certain other kinds of things. And we have to get serious about that. One thing we haven't done very well at is distribution. This is why many people feel left out of what, in GDP terms looks great. I mean, and many economists will agree, but then the hard question is, well, why didn't our laws of economics take on board the distributive question? So in my article, Technologies of Humility, one of the things I say is that we often get really hung up on prediction. But when we are looking at prediction, we are not looking at winners and losers necessarily, we don't say, in the aggregate, supposing this moves forward in this way, who will be the winners and who will be the losers and what will the losers say and how do we bring them into the equation? So that may be a slow process, but if you don't even begin to ask who the winners and losers will be when you innovate policy, then there is a serious problem. And I will say that, a book, a science fiction book that is praised by a lot of people, including former president Obama, "Ministry for the Future," by Kim Stanley Robinson. To me, it was provocative in a way because it begins with a scenario that touches me very closely. It begins with a scenario in which there is impossible heat in India, which is happening right this moment as we speak, parts of India are scorching. And in this, Kim Stanley Robinson book, 20 million people die in India of a heat wave and people are like boiled fish in a swimming pool where they go to escape and it's a horrifying scenario. But by aggregating, by turning all those people dying in India into a population of 20 million, I think to some extent undercut a responsibility issue. And I think for me, Technologies of Humility means something that people like Juan as politicians understand that you have to have the empathy to put yourself in the position of the things that you're analyzing. And what my job is as somebody who is blessed with the power of language and a certain amount of skill in articulation, as well as a mathematicians and a lawyer's analytic cost of mind, is to keep reminding, is to keep reminding people we are humans, we are connected to other humans, we owe things to our future generations and to each other on the planet. And my contributions for as much time as I have left will be towards finding any opportunity to make that sort of set up questions about responsibility and what we owe to one another, come to the forefront in vivid ways.

- Well, the time has flown by, but the clock says we need to wrap it up. We apologize to anybody who's question we did not get to, but thank you to all of you who called in to listen to this last Wiener Conference Call of the spring semester. And of course a very special thank you to professor Jasanoff for this fascinating conversation. We look forward to having you all back on the line with us for more Wiener Conference Calls in the next academic year. Have a great day, everyone.

- Thank you again, Ralph, for inviting me and thanks to everybody for being there and for your questions.