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Current developments of interest

Words of Caution on Making Objects of Security Concern

As we continually develop new areas of technology, how do we think about how that technology might cause harm? In this talk, I draw out some lessons that can be learned from how Americans have built scientific cultures and governance mechanisms for constructing and governing security concerns in the life sciences. These cultures and mechanisms are built on a set of assumptions about the structure of knowledge and the relationship between… Read More »Words of Caution on Making Objects of Security Concern

Presentation to the BWC Meeting of Experts Side Event

Every year, the United Nations Biological Weapons Convention has a Meeting of Experts to share updates on developments relevant to the Convention. This year, several colleagues and I presented on work we have been doing as part of the ESRC/AHRC/DSTL funded grant on The Formulation and Non-formulation of Security Concerns: Preventing the Destructive Application of the Life Sciences. I presented on ways to “‘Take Care’ of Security in Synthetic Biology,” which… Read More »Presentation to the BWC Meeting of Experts Side Event

Dual Use Research of Concern – Comments on the US Government’s Proposed Policy

On 21 February 2013, the US Government released a proposed policy for institutional oversight of dual-use research of concern. This proposed policy was then opened to public comments, where were due yesterday. As someone who has been looking at issues of dual-use research and technology for nearly a decade, and having recently turned my attention more specifically to dual-use research in the life sciences, I felt that I needed to comment.… Read More »Dual Use Research of Concern – Comments on the US Government’s Proposed Policy

Taking up a new position at Berkeley

I have begun a new position at the University of California, Berkeley, within the new Center for Science, Technology, Medicine, & Society (CSTMS).   The Center is a vibrant hub of activity and research on the social and political dimensions of science, technology and medicine.  It takes an array of perspectives, from Science & Technology Studies, History of Science, and the Medical Humanities, to help us understand the past, and… Read More »Taking up a new position at Berkeley

Button factories and international negotiations

I have long heard that Khrushchev once commented how ridiculous export controls were, saying that anything could be a militarily significant technology, even trouser buttons.  “How do you expect a military to fight if they can’t hold their trousers up?” is along the lines of what he is reported to have said.  No one seems to have the original statement however, which makes it dubious to use in academic writing. … Read More »Button factories and international negotiations

Ambiguity as a tool for both changing and stabilizing classification systems

Last weekend, I attended a conference at Stanford University on “Uncertainty: Ambiguity and doubt in knowledge production”.  At it, I presented a paper on how the Wassenaar Arrangement uses ambiguity to both stabilize and change the classification system.  For instance, it was by purposefully creating ambiguity in the areas of concern for Wassenaar that countries such as Russia were able to buy into the Arrangement.  By not being directed at… Read More »Ambiguity as a tool for both changing and stabilizing classification systems

Heading to Harvard

In the Autumn of 2009, I will take up a Postdoctoral Fellowship at Harvard University.  The post is divided between the Kennedy School of Government (and in particular the Program on Science, Technology, & Society) and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS). My job will involve building links between the two schools, helping to design an undergraduate course in Technology & Society, publishing at least one journal article, and… Read More »Heading to Harvard

California trip

I recently got back from a trip to California, where I met a few people at UC Berkeley and UC Santa Clara’s Center for Science, Technology, and Society, and gave a talk at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, part of the Monterey Institute for International Studies. The talk, I think, went quite well. I outlined how the Wassenaar Arrangement, and export controls generally, are based on three assumptions:… Read More »California trip