Distinguishing the umbrella promise of Converging Technology from the dynamics of Technology Convergence

Abstract : The concept of ‘Converging Technology’ emerged as an umbrella term in the early 2000s, entangling visions around a number of key enabling technologies and their application to improving human performance and well-being. With projections of significant contributions to human enhancement and, more recently, by promising potential solutions to societal grand challenges, Converging Technology (as an umbrella promise) has been promising the possibility to add value through the integration of different scientific disciplines and their technological applications with anticipated transformative changes to industry and society. Nanotechnology and biotechnology in particular have been identified by some as a cornerstone in various visions of converging technology. What is unclear is what are the actual research and innovation activities linked to convergence? What specific trajectories of development are actually occurring (can be identified), and what are the policy, governance and societal challenges involved? This short chapter provides a first step towards exploring these questions (which are explored further in the accompanying chapters in this volume). This is done by: •exploring the historical emergence of the umbrella promises/labels ‘Converging Technology’ and ‘NBIC’; •making clearer the distinction between ‘Converging Technology’ and ‘technology convergence’; and •considering what might be the broad policy, governance and societal implications related to technology convergence The main point of this chapter is to highlight that discussions on the future promises and scenarios based on the umbrella terms of ‘NBIC’ and ‘Converging Technology’ mostly involve speculative ethical reflection (uncontrolled speculation) and that, especially from a policy-making perspective, there is a need to shift the approach to focus on more concrete issues of technological convergence. The chapter gives a glimpse at what these issues of technological convergence may be, where other chapters in the book will elaborate this point further.
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Contributor : Douglas K. R. Robinson <>
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Douglas K. R. Robinson. Distinguishing the umbrella promise of Converging Technology from the dynamics of Technology Convergence. Wienroth, M. and Rodrigues, E. (eds.) (2015). Knowing New Biotechnologies: Social Aspects of Technological Convergence. Routledge, ⟨Routledge⟩, 2015, Knowing New Biotechnologies Social Aspects of Technological Convergence. ⟨hal-01276918⟩

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