Accepted paper:

High-tech solutionism: Questioning evaluation and impact assessment mechanisms for emerging security technologies


Georgios Kolliarakis (University of Frankfurt)

Paper short abstract:

Paper long abstract:

Ex-ante assessments and ex-post evaluations are not only instruments for quality control of research, development and innovation projects, but, much more, mechanisms to shape and steer research whole policy programmes. This paper turns to the European Security Research Programme (ESRP) and its pursuit of high-tech surveillance, detection and pattern recognition technologies. It examines the (in-)adequacy of the existing evaluation and assessment instruments to guarantee that the ESRP delivers on its primary objective, that is, enhancing security in society. Instead, predominant frames of innovation as a growth-oriented and market-driven endeavour mislead toward promoting industrial leadership and export competitiveness at the cost of demand-driven understandings of challenges, desirable goals, and acceptable procedures of R&D. Despite the fact that civil security features as a "societal challenge", it is evaluated and assessed along econometric indicators, and not along its societal impact, while civil societal stakeholders are absent from the policy formulation process. The institutionalisation of participative Societal Impact Assessments could provide, first, alternative problem definitions and prioritisations; Second, they should generate awareness about 2nd-order non-intended effects of the high-tech solutions themselves; Third, they should foster a more legitimate, accountable, and fair (in terms of benefit- and risk-sharing) research process. The author draws upon official EU policy documents, such as programmatic papers, assessments, and interim evaluations, upon his experience from a multi-stakeholder EU security research project, as well as upon his participation as an evaluator and expert at consultations on the ethical and societal impact assessment of the ESRP.

panel K3
Conceptualizing the practice of responsible research and innovation