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    Special Report: Governance of Emerging Technologies: Aligning Policy Analysis with the Public’s Values

    A special report in the Hastings Center Report Edited by Gregory E. Kaebnick and Michael K. Gusmano


    Making Policies about Emerging Technologies, Gregory E. Kaebnick and Michael K. Gusmano
    Does cost-benefit analysis provide the best methodology for incorporating the public’s values in policy analysis of an emerging technology? Possible uses of synthetic biology illustrate CBA’s strengths but also common objections that CBA excludes some values, setting up a debate about whether CBA needs to be corrected, augmented, or replaced.

    CBA and Values

    Benefit-Cost Analysis and Emerging Technologies, Brian Mannix
    BCA offers the best strategy available for guiding an emerging technology toward outcomes that serve the public’s interest—but most of the time, no guidance at all is better yet.

    Demystifying Evidence-Based Policy Analysis: Revealing Hidden Value-Laden Constraints, Adam M. Finkel
    Cost-benefit analysis is replete with hidden value judgments, from the initial decision about what to regulate through to the evaluation of the regulation’s effects, but if done with greater reflection about the ethical choices it involves, it is a worthy tool.

    Criticisms and Alternatives

    Behavioral Economics and the Public Acceptance of Synthetic Biology, Adam Oliver
    Findings from behavioral economics raise a question about how policy-makers should regard the supposedly irrational dislike that people often have for risk and uncertainty. Do those preferences provide grounds for more conservative decisions than traditional economic assumptions suggest?

    Lessons from Environmental Regulation, Amy Sinden
    The uncertainties of synthetic biology make CBA impracticable. Nor can we rely on feasibility analysis, a precautionary approach that is initially attractive. Scenario analysis may be the best method to achieve the long-term, creative thinking necessary to avert potential harms with synthetic biology.

    Integrating Scenario Planning and Cost Benefit Methods, Stephen C. Aldrich
    Scenario analysis, a method for collective deliberation about a range of potential long-term outcomes, can generate the inputs necessary to study emerging technologies like synthetic biology.

    Beyond Cost-Benefit Analysis in the Governance of Synthetic Biology, Wendell Wallach, Marc Saner, and Gary Marchant
    New institutional structures are needed for policy-making on emerging technologies. A “governance coordinating committee” could help address uncertainties about outcomes and foster the public dialogue necessary to resolve conflicting perspectives about those outcomes.

    From CBA to Precautionary Appraisal, Andrew Stirling and Josie Coburn
    The challenge in policy-making is to think more widely, creatively, and fully about what’s at stake and what the alternative policy options are. As practiced, policy analysis tends to serve vested interests by narrowing the range of options and inputs. Multicriteria mapping illustrates the right approach.

    CBA and Precaution: Policy-Making about Emerging TechnologiesGregory E. Kaebnick and Michael K. Gusmano
    Precaution has to do with the structure of thinking more than with the sub­stance. Whether or how to constrain a technology to avert harms may vary from case to case. Properly construed, both precaution and CBA can contribute to clearer, public interest–oriented policy analysis.



    The Hastings Center has never shied away from the toughest ethical challenges faced by society.


    The Hastings Center has never shied away from the toughest ethical challenges faced by society.