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May 7, 2018 | Patti Mulligan

GES Co-director, Dr. Jennifer Kuzma and affiliated faculty member, Dr. David Berube, have published an article in the journal Environment Systems and Decisions that argues for a risk governance approach to emerging technologies, such as synthetic biology and artificial intelligence, that integrates quantitative experimental information together with qualitative expert insights.

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Comparative, collaborative, and integrative risk governance for emerging technologies

Environment Systems and Decisions cover


Various emerging technologies challenge existing governance processes to identify, assess, and manage risk. Though the existing risk-based paradigm has been essential for assessment of many chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear technologies, a complementary approach may be warranted for the early-stage assessment and management challenges of high uncertainty technologies ranging from nanotechnology to synthetic biology to artificial intelligence, among many others. This paper argues for a risk governance approach that integrates quantitative experimental information alongside qualitative expert insight to characterize and balance the risks, benefits, costs, and societal implications of emerging technologies. Various articles in scholarly literature have highlighted differing points of how to address technological uncertainty, and this article builds upon such knowledge to explain how an emerging technology risk governance process should be driven by a multi-stakeholder effort, incorporate various disparate sources of information, review various endpoints and outcomes, and comparatively assess emerging technology performance against existing conventional products in a given application area. At least in the early stages of development when quantitative data for risk assessment remain incomplete or limited, such an approach can be valuable for policymakers and decision makers to evaluate the impact that such technologies may have upon human and environmental health.

Keywords: Synthetic biology, Biotechnology, Nanotechnology, Governance, Risk assessment, Policy, Decision analysis, Regulations

Fig. 1 Differentiation of a traditional ‘risk-based’ and a ‘comparative-based’ approach to risk policy and governance for emerging technologies


Igor Linkov, Benjamin D. Trump, Elke Anklam, David Berube, Patrick Boisseasu, Christopher Cummings, Scott Ferson, Marie-Valentine Florin, Jennifer Kuzma; et al. 2018. Comparative, collaborative, and integrative risk governance for emerging technologies, Environment Systems and Decisions, 1-7, doi: 10.1007/s10669-018-9686-5. Download

First Online: 04 May 2018

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