Technology Assessment (TA)

Technology Assessment comprises a family of scientific, participatory and interactive processes undertaken to support the formation of public and political opinion on new technologies that may have significant impacts on the society (e.g. nanotechnology, digital technologies, future mobility, synthetic biology, geo-engineering).

TA refers to the timely identification, assessment and discussion of the impacts (e.g. societal, environmental, ethical, legal) of science, technology and innovation, as a service to policy making and decision making more generally.

Technology Assessment assists anticipatory governance of technology design and uptake through three interlinked functions (Grunwald 2019):

  • Advising policy-making: Technology Assessment is designed primarily as a decision-support tool for parliamentary bodies. It is used to support parliamentary debates (and in some cases also decision-making by national and regional governments) through impartial and high quality insights, reports and advice on possible social, economic and environmental impacts of forthcoming innovations.
  • Facilitating public debate: participatory elements of Technology Assessment engage concerned citizens as active contributors to policy-making and promote deliberative democracy and wider societal debates on emerging technologies. Engagement of key concerned stakeholders improves quality and transparency of technology governance.
  • Supporting research and innovation: Technology Assessment encourages consideration of wider societal perspectives in the whole process of innovation - from the inception and design to development and market placement. Interactive ex-ante Technology Assessment enriches the innovation process through reflexivity over possible consequences and encourages innovators to take due account of a broader spectrum of values that underpin societal value and even economic worth of relevant innovations.

For more information see this Wikipedia article.


TA resources