Recent work

Embrace Experimentation in Biosecurity Governance

One of the biggest lessons we can learn from the current pandemic is the need to learn lessons without a pandemic. We can do that by taking a more experimental approach to biosecurity.

Comment for the Department of Commerce ANPRM on “Review of Controls on Certain Emerging Technologies”

This is a copy of my comment for the Department of Commerce ANPRM on “Review of Controls on Certain Emerging Technologies”. Read more about why Commerce asked for comments on how they govern security concerns in emerging technologies, and why it’s important. Download this comment as a PDF. You can also find this comment in the official docket for the ANPRM. 10 January 2019 Matthew S. Borman Deputy Assistant Secretary… Read More »Comment for the Department of Commerce ANPRM on “Review of Controls on Certain Emerging Technologies”

Anomaly handling and the politics of gene drives

Back in 2015, Megan Palmer and I agreed to write a paper as part of an NSF grant on Gene Drives: A Deliberative Workshop to Develop Frameworks for Research and Governance. Over many iterations, we whittled down our ideas to expounding on the different ways groups have been debating what a gene drive is, and how that definition relates to how gene drives should be regulated. The result is this article… Read More »Anomaly handling and the politics of gene drives

Knowledge and Security

The new Handbook of Science and Technology Studies is now available, and I was lucky enough to work with a set of colleagues on a chapter about “Knowledge and Security”. This chapter discusses the STS contributions to security studies. The literature that comprises this chapter is grouped around four main themes and questions: 1. Imagining security: the scope, boundaries, and discourse of security; 2.Knowledge, non-knowledge, secrecy, and ignorance; 3.Knowing citizens:… Read More »Knowledge and Security

Biosecurity Governance for the Real World

Current efforts to limit the dissemination of dual-use biological research results are rooted in simplistic understandings of how such knowledge becomes dangerous. I argue in an article appearing in the Fall 2016 Issues in Science and Technology that it’s time for a new approach. Read the full preprint. With little fanfare, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine set up a committee earlier this year on Dual Use Research of Concern: Options for… Read More »Biosecurity Governance for the Real World

Book chapter on ‘Taking Care’ in synthetic biology

Synthetic biology, from its early stages of development, has had an explicit focus on biosafety and biosecurity concerns. These concerns are being identified and addressed in different ways, including strategies that ‘take care of’ them by getting them off the mind, and approaches that attend to and ‘care for’ concerns in more open-ended ways. In this chapter, we look at the shaping of concerns and non-concerns relating to biosafety and… Read More »Book chapter on ‘Taking Care’ in synthetic biology

Book Review: Vulnerability in Technological Cultures

This edited volume explores the concept of vulnerability as a useful analytic lens for studying big issues in technological cultures, providing a more compassionate and encompassing framing of issues than traditional risk analyses. “Book Review: Vulnerability in Technological Cultures: New Directions in Research and Governance. Edited by Anique Hommels, Jessica Mesman and Wiebe E. Bijker.” Science and Public Policy. 17 February 2015.

What’s the Matter with Biosecurity?

In this brief Perspective in the Journal of Responsible Innovation, I discuss the different conceptions of security that are being debated over within the biology, and specifically the synthetic biology, community. I argue that understanding who is constructing security concerns, and how, should be an active area of research, as should be how to govern innovation now when potentially catastrophic outcomes might result from choosing one pathway over another. If… Read More »What’s the Matter with Biosecurity?

Letter to the Editor of Nature on Synthetic Biology

In a recent issue of Nature, there was a special section on moving ‘Beyond Divisions’ in building the future of synthetic biology. While I and many of my colleagues support many ways of moving beyond many types of divisions, we thought the initial ‘Worldview‘ piece by  Volker ter Meulen required a concerted reply, as it missed the point of much of our work. 20 colleagues (listed below) and I sent… Read More »Letter to the Editor of Nature on Synthetic Biology

Report on Multilateral Export Control List Modification Processes Published

My report with the Flemish Peace Institute on Multilateral Export Control List Modification Processes is now published. The first part of the introduction is below. An export control system is one of a range of mechanisms that states can employ to govern the security concerns tied to goods and technologyI. It is a tool that has been used by states as long as states have existed, in conjunction with sanctions,… Read More »Report on Multilateral Export Control List Modification Processes Published