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Media Science Series Technology

Part 2 The Responsible Innovation Circus Rolls into Town

A lighthearted view of Responsible Innovation

Alternative Teaching Methods for Responsible Innovation

There are many ways of presenting complex arguments about ethics, and some interesting examples of theatre in use. The embedded video above was made for the final closing conference of a European Union funded project ROSIE.

The video presents a light-hearted look at the problems faced when trying to introduce the RI concept to small businesses. It was made in character (following the tradition of action theatre in academic use as a teaching tool for ethics) and addresses the problem of the gap found between the language used in RI publications (of all sorts) and that used in the small business world.

It uses a circus metaphor to represent the balancing act prescribed through various EU and Standards documentation related to Responsible Innovation, using the balance metaphor for a high-wire walk and their prescribed goals and approaches as juggling balls.

In making this video I was very much influenced by a US based university professor who uses radio plays, theatre and art in his teaching that he produces himself.

Richard G Epstein

Richard G Epstein works in the Department of Computer Science, West Chester University of PA, where he teaches courses on computer science, software engineering and computer security and ethics.

His university home page provides access to some of his publications, and I would like to have a look at three of them. He produces teaching aids that are extremely entertaining and require no technical understanding.

Artistic Work

The Case Of The Killer Robot is a series of fake newspaper articles that report the story of an accident at work involving an industrial robot and its operator. The early articles are descriptions of the accident but as the work moves on it slides into legal and ethical territory. Who is actually guilty for the malfunctioning of the machine and who should be held legally responsible? One of the programmers is found to have misunderstood a piece of code scrawled on a post-it and his translation error is deemed to have caused the death, so he is charged with manslaughter.

The reporters visit the factory and interview fellow workers, producing articles within which they reveal problems within the organization and managerial team and slander the poor programmer’s personality, all in perfect local journalism hack style. They have expert interviews and uncover both design faults and personal differences between members of the development strategy team.

The issue of responsibility is really brought to the fore, although in a fictional setting the ethical dilemmas faced during the development and working practices involved are laid bare. It makes for a very entertaining and thought provoking read.

The Plays

The second work I recommend is one of the author’s plays entitled The Sunshine Borgs. The play is set in the near future and tells the story of a bitter ex-playwright who has lost his job and seen the demise of human participation in the arts caused by the development of computer programmes that write plays and music for human consumption.

The play investigates the threat that high power “intelligent” computing could pose to human creativity. Robots have taken over as actors, lovers, authors and just about everything else. Pain and suffering, poverty and crime have been all but eradicated but has humanity lost its passion? The play contains a twist that I won’t reveal and the writing style even manages to portray the effect that working in a computer environment can have on language use and thought processes.

The Author describes this work as a comedy but it is too close to the bone to make you really laugh. Questions such as the legal rights of robots and the possibility of charging a human with robot abuse are raised when the main character’s unwanted robot companion commits suicide as a result of the playwright trying to educate a soul into his hated but extremely useful houseguest.


Another of his plays entitled NanoBytes addresses the problem of nanotechnology, an interesting story of the head of a nanotechnologies company and a small mishap regarding molecular sized computers that can be injected into people in order to stop anti-social behaviour. A much shorter read but with some equally interesting twists and an insightful tongue in cheek description of American family and business life.

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Technology

Part 1, Responsible Innovation, an Overview

The first part of this introductory course looks at chapter 1 of the book Responsible Innovation, a Narrative Approach, free to download here.  These posts offer a guide to the book, a kind of online lecture series. The questions raised in the book relate to the development of new technologies, from the governance perspective but also from the perspective of those working within various research and development projects.

Responsible Innovation, an Overview

The aim of this week’s post is to introduce the concept of responsible innovation and some definitions that we find in use today, look at the aims and goals proposed and the backgrounds (both political and academic) that allowed the development of the concept and the definitions.

We can understand responsible innovation as having the goal of managing the development of technology while it is still possible to do so, so at its early stages of development. It grows out of a tradition of technology assessment, a process put into place (often by governments) whose aim is to assess new technologies before they come to the marketplace in order to address possible risks and suitability for introduction.

Responsible innovation adds an idea to this approach: Rather than just looking at risk and suitability it proposes the idea that innovation could be steered towards public good. So it should have public good as a goal, as well as not being risky etc.

In order to be able to do this there must be a possibility of developing and adapting the development process. In its design stage it should take into account this goal and aim at resolving pressing public issues. To do this though the process must be flexible and steerable. This brings into discussion when in the process these things can be done, presenting us with a dilemma: If the intervention comes too late, the development process will be fixed and difficult to change, but in the very earliest stages it may not be possible to see how the developments will be used. In the one case change is difficult to bring, in the other it may be difficult to determine what we are actually dealing with.

Nanotechnology development offers an easy to understand example, and it has been a driver in the thinking process. But in general terms we can see the move to responsible innovation one from assessment of technology to the management of its development.

This has been implemented here in Europe by the European Commission and various other UK Research Funding bodies. In order to get a more precise idea of what we are dealing with, we need some form of definition .

Definitions in Common Use

As we are dealing with a new and emerging field, there are several definitions in use today. We start with the most widely used, that of René von Schomberg, who describes responsible innovation as:

a transparent, interactive process by which societal actors and innovators become mutually responsive to each other with a view to the (ethical) acceptability, sustainability and societal desirability of the innovation process and its marketable products (in order to allow a proper embedding of scientific and technological advances in our society).

This definition has been influential within the European Commission as von Schomberg works within the Directorate General for Research and Innovation. The Commission has also published various papers and its own variations, links to which you can find in the book.

The definition here refers to several of these EU documents, and is drawn from an understanding of the actual treaties and agreements that make up membership of the European Union and have been agreed by the nation states (the Treaty of Rome and Lund declaration for example). It uses what von Schomberg calls normative anchor points that can steer towards positive benefits.

The second most widely used definition comes from Stilgoe, Owen & MacNaghten. This definition comes from a research council background, and was devised based upon public debate on science and technology in the UK:

Responsible research and innovation means taking collective care for the future, through stewardship of innovation in the present

This definition comes from an article that describes the idea in more detail, a description of which is in the chapter. The definition is based on an idea of science for society, and has 4 dimensions that have become fundamental for responsible innovation. It should be:

anticipatory (describing and analysing both intended and potentially unintended impacts); reflective (on underlying purposes, motivations and potential impacts); deliberative (inclusively opening up visions, purposes, questions and dilemmas); responsive (a collective reflexivity process sets innovation direction and influences its trajectory)

These ideas have led to a lot of public involvement at early stages in development processes.

Van den Hoven offers a vision of the role of design (read more in the book) describing the process as one of moral overload: How can you design something that is user-friendly, secure, cheap, durable, environmentally friendly, stylish and saleable at the same time?

There are several other definitions in the book too, from different backgrounds and which use different language.  I think that’s enough for today though.

It’s not a complicated subject. It’s a question. Could innovation work better for society, and if so how do we get it to do so?

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Series Technology

Responsible Innovation, a Free Introductory Course (with book)

Introduction

As readers might know, I am a great champion of open access publications. One of the great things that the inclusion of the concept of Responsible Innovation into European Union policy has been the explosion of open access reports and books.

These reports etc. are written by people who are at the top of their fields, and they have generally been written in a more accessible way so that non experts can understand them. If you scroll back over the last year you will find many of them reviewed on the website.

Last year I was fortunate enough to work on editing a book, it is available as hardback, or on download, but is not free. It is a commercial publication and I have to admit in my line of work that we do need publishers, and they need to make money. So it’s not free.

Last month I had another book published through the University of Bergamo. This time though it is available on Amazon in paperback or Kindle format but also on free download via the University. Therefore, anybody who would like to download it and have a look is free to do so. And I would like to offer a guide through it.

But what is it about? I hear you say.

Follow The Book Online

Over the coming weeks I am going to write a series of posts that offer an overview, to see if I can tempt you into buying a paperback or downloading it. But we could say that it’s about decision-making in innovation. Broader than that it is about how people who work together cooperate to build and share an understanding of what the right way to do something is.

Can we see this ‘right way of doing it’ as being constructed right there, in the workplace? What if some of the team changes and new people with new ideas come in? How might that change the way things are viewed?

These questions can be addressed to any workplace, but (as we might imagine on Technologybloggers), my interest is in how technology is developed and how the trajectory of this development path is steered.

This might not seem like an important question at first glance, but I think it is. The development of systems and disruptive technologies brings huge changes, and the questions asked during this development process change it, making its possibilities change.

Ask not what the technology can do for you, but how you can affect its development.

The COVID crisis had led to innovation across entire systems. The trajectory of a wide range of technologies has been changed by users. We have expanded the list of the right ways to work with tools (that may be programs or infrastructure, 3D printers or networks.

Returning to the book. The chapters can be read independently, so I am going to offer an overview each week of the questions raised. If you would like to follow the narration with a book, just download your free copy here. I will try to provide you with a University level Introduction to Responsible Innovation course.

I hope to make you curiouser and curiouser.

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Technology

Responsible Innovation. Business Opportunities and Strategies for Implementation

One of the changes that the introduction of Responsible Innovation into EU funding practices has brought is the wider offering of open-access academic and project publication (free books). This is because under the RI approach, publications should be made available to anyone who wants to read them, and therefore costless.

A good example to get your teeth into is Responsible Innovation: Business Opportunities and Strategies for Implementation, a new offering in the SPRINGER BRIEFS IN RESEARCH AND INNOVATION GOVERNANCE series (not all of which is available on open access however).

Edited by Katharina Jarmai, it is available in paper version or as a free download and offers a lot of food for thought for anyone interested in responsible innovation approach and application within business.

The primary focus of this short book is on small and medium enterprises and how they have adopted responsible approaches to their businesses (and also the problems they face if they want to do so).

The main perspective taken is one of looking at the overall objectives of RI approaches in order to apply these approaches in real-life situations. The goal for RI is thus described as ‘to increase positive societal impact and minimize actual and potential negative impact to the highest degree possible’, moving away from the abstract academic definitions and into practice.

Sounds perfectly reasonable.

This move hopes to involve businesses and business people who want and need guidance or to demonstrate their various good practices.

The book contains several case studies and practice examples that show how RI can be implemented in companies. In many cases described the companies go beyond guidelines and expectations. This is down to the personal beliefs of their management teams or workers, and it has a positive effect on the workforce as a whole: People want to work for responsible organizations.

Sustainability-oriented innovation (a topic that is important for this website as a look back through the posts shows) is compared to RI, as is social innovation.  The particular problems that small businesses find themselves in in relation to RI and the investment required are also described and solutions offered.

Real life case studies provide examples of reduced costs, reputational gains, employee retention, faster market entry, access to previously unavailable stakeholders, higher acceptability of end products, and higher innovation potential through diverse employees.

The chapters are short, well written and easy to follow. The book is 100 pages and certainly worth a couple of hours in order to gain an overview of RI in action within business.

Get yourself a free copy!

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Electric Vehicles Series Technology

Electric car cost per mile

Last time I looked at the difference in energy usage between petrol and electric cars. Another way of comparing EVs, hybrids and ICE cars is cost per mile. Using the Mini Cooper, we can compare all three. This example is based on UK units, assuming petrol is costs £1.30 per litre and electricity 14p/kWh – i.e charging at home.

Petrol

The petrol Mini Cooper S has a 44 litre fuel tank, and an average consumption of 44 miles per gallon – UK/Canadian mpg. A full tank of fuel can take the car 425 miles at a cost of £57.20, meaning each mile of driving costs 13.5 pence.

Hybrid

The Mini Countryman Cooper S plug-in hybrid has a 36 litre fuel tank and a 7.6kWh battery. Combined mpg figures range from 50.8mpg to 56.6mpg so we’ll use 53.4mpg for the comparison.

That means with a full tank and a full battery, you can travel around 423 miles – similar to the petrol car. The cost of 36 litres of petrol is £46.80 and 7.6kWh of electricity costs £1.06, making the total cost per mile around 11.3 pence.

Electric

The Mini Cooper Electric

The Mini Electric has a 32.6kWh battery and a range of 115 miles. It costs £4.56 to “fill up” the battery meaning each mile costs 4.0 pence.

Hybrid Inefficiencies

Interestingly, the hybrid is less efficient than the electric car when running on battery power and less efficient than the petrol car when running on the petrol engine. This is because it’s not just carrying an engine and a fuel tank, or a motor and a battery pack, it’s carrying all four all the time!

Hybrids were a great tool in the transition from ICE to EV, proving the concept and raising awareness. I believe they are no longer relevant however, as they’re significantly less efficient than their EV counterparts and don’t offer the electric range that people really need. The addition financial and efficiency costs don’t make hybrids worthwhile.

Most Efficient Car Pence Per Mile

The Hyundai Ioniq Electric

We’ve already established electric cars are far more efficient than petrol and hybrid-powered cars, so what’s the best of the best, the most efficient electric car? That title is shared by the Hyundai Ioniq Electric and the Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus which use just 240 watt-hours of juice per mile.

The Ioniq can drive an impressive 160 miles on a 38.3 kWh battery pack. It costs £5.36 to charge empty to full, at a cost per mile of 3.4 pence.

Just 3.4 pence for every mile of travel! That’s a quarter of the cost of the petrol Mini Cooper S!

The Model 3 can drive 195 miles (140 in winter, 275 in summer) on its 50 kWh battery pack. 50 kWh costs £7.00 on a £0.14/kWh home supply, which gives it a cost per mile of 3.6 pence. Worst case that’s 5.0 pence per mile in winter, best case it’s as low as 2.5 pence per mile in summer.

EV Tariffs

Some electricity providers now offer electric car tariffs, which make it even cheaper to charge. Some even pay you to take power off the grid when demand is low but supply is high!

£0.05/kWh is not uncommon. Charging a Model 3 at that price could give you 275 miles of range for £2.50.

0.9 pence per mile.

Petrol cars simply can’t compete with electric cars on pence per mile. EVs are too efficient 🙂

Categories
Technology

Updates: Working Together Against Corona

Thanks to everyone who sent in suggestions to add to the database of initiatives aimed at helping slow the spread of Corona. I am going to take a look at some of those suggested in the hope of offering you all a little inspiration before you go into the shed to invent something spectacular.

Issinova have designed a valve that can be fitted to an already commercially available Decathlon underwater swimming mask (snorkeling) so that it can be used to provide oxygen from a ventilator machine in sub-intensive care. The company makes the design freely available on its website. See one in the photo above.

Although the solutions are not certified they can be used in case of an emergency situation in which the hospital does not have enough masks for the numbers of patients.

Andrea Tarantino, a stationer from Milan, is using a 3D printer to produce protective masks that are able to defend both himself and other shopkeepers from infection from COVID-19. Using a non-professional 3D printer, he is able to produce a mask starting from a sheet of acetylene in six hours. Not quick, but he is able to supply all of the shopkeepers in the area. See how good your Italian is via the link.

Belgian business ZoraBots is working to make a stock of robots currently stockpiled in their warehouse freely available to help elderly and isolated people connect. They are offering these robots to care homes, and if you have chance, take a look at the link to see what they can do.

Returning to Italy, a crowdfunding is currently running for the Milan Mechanical Ventilators project, promoted by Cristiano Galbiati, Professor at the GSSI (Gran Sasso Science Institute) and Princeton University. The objective is to develop a new (simple and safe) device that conforms to HRME guidelines and is quickly mass producible.

Students at Delft Technical University have produced a prototype of a simple ventilator machine that can be assembled and used in hospitals if other machinery is not available. The prototype is the result of 3 weeks work involving 50 students. The machines are currently being tested, but could be locally produced at a rate of 40 per day. Test your Dutch via the link.

Keep them coming in! All languages accepted. All suggestions to: anticovid19(at)fondazionebassetti.org
Replace the (at) with an @

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Science Technology

Working together against COVID-19

This post was prepared by Anna Pellizzone, a science writer and an independent researcher at the Bassetti Foundation.

Makers

As many of us face lockdown and restricted movement, it is certainly worth thinking about what we ourselves might be able to do from our homes to help in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. There are plenty of initiatives around that are pushing technology into new fields, with 3D printing certainly one of the most prominent technologies.

News of respirator valves produced using 3D printers has spread across the world. Thanks to the meeting of three minds, a journalist (Nunzia Vallini, Giornale di Brescia), a Maker from Milan (Massimo Temporelli, FabLab Milano) and an entrepreneur (Cristian Fracassi from Isinnova), pieces required for the machines used in the Intensive Care Department of Chiari Hospital (Italy) are being produced in the hospital itself.

The “3D Printing Unite for COVID-19” forum is another interesting collaboration. Through the forum, makers from across the world share ideas aimed at responding to the emergency. You can read more about the Chiari story there. This is an open-source initiative headquartered in Ireland which aims to resolve the problem of the shortage of  ventilators, learn more here in Forbes.

And there is plenty more. João Nascimento runs the OpenAir project, with the aim of finding new, fast, open-source and accessible ways to produce much-needed medical equipment. Lots of interesting stuff here too.

If you are the competitive type (and well set up), the UBORA project, has launched the UBORA design competition 2020, with the title “Open source medical technologies for integral management of COVID-19 pandemia and infectious disease outbreaks”.

Play Your Part

You too can play a role though without technical expertise and home technology by participating in Coronaselfcheck, a platform that works to map data on the spread of COVID-19 through a personal self-check. Check out the privacy and descriptions of aims before you make a decision, but everything is anonymous and helps through mapping contagion.

And of course fold.it, a platform many of you will know, where users who play have been able to help researchers to discover new antiviral drugs that might be able to stop the coronavirus. The most promising solutions will be tested at the Institute for Protein Design of the University of Washington. We are all citizen scientists at heart.

Remaining in the area of protein folding, another contribution that we can all make is to offer our own PC’s computational capacity by downloading and running folding@home – similar to BOINC projects.

There is also a lot of open-source software available that allows the sharing of useful research data. Nextstrain is an open-source application that works to track the evolution of viruses and bacteria, while GISAID is a free open-access platform that promotes the sharing of the genetic sequences of virus genomes such as influenza, bird flu and COVID-19.

And finally check out this article from Wired and you will be in self-isolation heaven.

Keep us informed if you find any others please: anticovid19(at)fondazionebassetti.org
Replace the (at) with an @

Let’s all push and show them what we can do if we all work together.

Categories
Electric Vehicles Series Technology

How many miles per gallon do electric cars get?

Electric cars aren’t powered by diesel or petrol, so they don’t have an official miles per gallon figure. That said, there are ways of working out how efficient they are and even give them a rough miles per gallon.

How Many Kilowatt Hours is in a Gallon of Petrol? ⛽

The US governments fueleconomy.gov website calculates 1 (US) gallon of gasoline is equivalent to 33.7 kilowatt hours of energy – or kWh.

A US gallon is 3.785 litres, whereas in Canada and the UK a gallon is 4.546 litres. This means a (UK/Canadian) gallon of petrol is equivalent to 40.5 kWh of electricity.

Each litre of petrol is equivalent to 8.9 kWh.

Toyota Prius vs Nissan Leaf MPG

The Toyota Prius was once regarded as the sustainable choice for environmentally conscious drivers, but in recent times its crown has slipped a little. This might be partly because of Toyota’s inaccurate branding, claiming that it sells “self-charging cars”, when in reality a (very small) battery is charged by recovering motion which was achieved by burning petrol or diesel. That’s how most cars charge their 12-volt battery, it’s not self-charging! 😂 It’s also because electric cars are now more viable and mainstream.

The Nissan Leaf is currently the top-selling electric vehicle of all time (at least until the Model 3’s first quarter sales are released) so let’s use that for the comparison. An “efficient” hybrid vs an electric vehicle, how do they compare?

The Nissan Leaf

The Totoya Prius achieves 62.4mpg (UK/Canada) using 4.5 litres to travel 100 miles. The Nissan Leaf by comparison achieves the equivalent of 129.7mpg (UK/Canada) taking just 2.2 litres to travel 100 miles.

This highlights the efficiency of electric vehicles.

The Leaf uses less than half the energy of the Prius (the previous “gold standard”) to travel the same distance.

Efficiency

Internal combustion engine (ICE) powered cars convert around 12-30% of the petrol or diesel they consume into forward motion powering the wheels. This is because an ICE car loses over two-thirds of its energy through heat 🔥 and the transmission of power through the drivetrain.

Even the most inefficient electric vehicles translate at least 60% of the electricity stored in the battery into forward motion. If driven using regenerative braking (to re-capture energy, rather than scrubbing it off via breaking) EVs can be around 90% efficient!

How Big is an Electric Car’s Fuel Tank?

Electric car battery and powertrain

Here’s another interesting question, if an electric car had a fuel tank, how big would it be?

The Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus has a 50kWh battery, so if one US gallon of gasoline/petrol is equivalent to 33.7kWh, then the Tesla Model 3s equivalent petrol fuel tank would be 1.48 US gallons – or 5.62 litres.

That’s right, an electric car can achieve a range of 200 miles (275 if driven carefully in warm weather) on less than the equivalent of 6 litres of petrol!

You can also compare cars on a cost per mile basis, which is what I’m going to write about next, with the help of the new electric Mini!

Categories
Technology

Webinar on technology, legal issues and human rights challenges 5 March 2020

This week I want to let you know about a webinar that might well be of interest, hosted by the EU funded SIENNA project.

The SIENNA project addresses ethical issues in three new and emerging technology areas: human genomics, human enhancement and human-machine interaction. As we know, these areas all come with major socio-economic impact but they also raise issues related to human rights. The project aims to identify and assess ethical issues and risks and produce three ethical frameworks related to the areas named above. 

The SIENNA project has recently produced a legal analysis of issues and human rights challenges for these areas, and studies of how they are handled in different jurisdictions. They are presenting the results in a webinar on 5 March 2020, at 2PM Central European Time.

The analysis looked at how the law responds to challenges in these different fields, and identified the limitations, challenges and gaps. They also identified key human rights norms and regulatory approaches that can help shape legal responses to new and emerging technologies in these domains. 

Interested participants can register here. I will certainly be following.

Categories
Technology

A Free Journal of Current EU Projects

To continue from where I left off last year, in this post I want to take a look at a free online journal that carries a special section on Responsible Innovation, and loads of interesting and maybe useful information about EU funded projects and forthcoming calls.

The Project Repository Journal (PRj) is the European Dissemination Media Agency (EDMA)’s flagship open access publication dedicated to showcasing funded science and research throughout Europe. Projects that are funded either by the European Commission, through one of their current schemes such as with an ERC grant or via Horizon 2020, or has received a grant from one of their National Research Councils or European funding agencies can publish in the journal, having the freedom to present their goals, ambitions and up to date research findings to a community that makes a difference to science going forward.

The current issue contains a host of interesting articles that are related to recent publications on our site: The need to improve internal combustion engines that will run in hybrid electric cars,  an introduction to European space sector investment, Smart maintenance of rail stock to enhance passenger experience, the workings of the Next-Net technology network with the aim of improving supply networks, autism, a sustainable plastic competition, urban waste management, African bio-challenges and changes, plenty of great stuff.

And regarding my own interests this issue contains an RRI Special Feature between pages 54 to 67.

This section presents the work of four funded Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) projects: Nucleus, Fit4RRI, RRING and RRI-Practice, large projects that work on guiding policy for the future of Responsible Innovation, training tools and their use, global collaboration and funding strategies.

Another interesting section offers an overview of forthcoming EU calls for funding, so you can get an idea of what the EU is doing to promote this idea and more importantly how much money they are investing (maybe you could get hold of some yourself).

The journal a free download, following the EU mantra of distributing knowledge for free, so well worth a look. Each of these projects also had downloadable documents if you want to delve further. The articles that we find here are written by people at the cutting edge of research in this field, so anyone with a moment of free time can certainly learn something.