1st ‘DELTA’ Project Workshop

Yesterday, we held the 1st workshop of Re-constructing ELSI Project with three guest speakers. The first speaker was Dr. Makoto Kureha at Kyoto University, who has been working on ELSI of Space Exploration, Development, and Utilization (SEDU) for the last couple of years. He told us about how he started the work and then what are potential issues that ought to be taken into consideration in thinking a new approach to SEDU governance. Such an approach is needed, he explains, because an increasing number of actors are now active in the field to exploit its commercial potentials and the conventional multi-state agreements are not as effective as they used to be when the field was dominated by state-sponsored research agencies. The second was Prof. Wataru Sano at Kyoto University. His talk examined the boundary of ‘public’ and ‘private’ and how this boundary may be mobilized across contexts. In some cases, a policy can serve the public interest even if it benefits only a small group of individuals, though it should be able to demonstrate in what way it does so. The last speaker was Prof. Tatsunori Hara at the University of Tokyo, whose work addresses issues of ‘value co-creation’ through material and service design. He explores ways to empower user-consumers by making more choices available to them, and by intentionally leaving some aspects of the design open and flexible.

The discussions during the workshop and also in a meeting I had with the project members prior to it made me think that research on and/or discussion about ELSI has an important social function other than addressing the issues concerned. I am not exactly sure what that is but it seems to have something to do with the definition of the very thing that is being examined and also its potential value. In some ways, the exercise of examining something’s ELSI indicates firstly that something does exist and secondly the thing is worth doing or having as long as its ‘glitches’ – identified with the label of ELSI – are managed. From this perspective, it may actually be crucial that ELSI work is left to the scholars of humanities and social scientists – who supposedly trustable ‘outsiders’ with no direct interest in the science or technology that they are tasked to examine seriously. To press this thought further, my plan for the coming few months is to re-visit a series of social science literature called the Sociology of Expectation. With the meeting in the morning and the workshop in the afternoon, it was definitely a busy day yesterday but that undoubtedly was the great way to end the year. I just can’t wait to do more work on this in 2018!


ー日本語(Japanese ver.)ー

第1回 「ELSI概念の再構築」研究会開催




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