Responsible Innovation and Standardization: A New Research Approach?

Responsible Innovation and Standardization: A New Research Approach?

Geerten van de Kaa (Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management, Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands)
DOI: 10.4018/jitsr.2013070105
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The fifth ITU-T Kaleidoscope event themed on Building Sustainable Communities took place in Kyoto, Japan, on 22 April – 25 April 2013. It consisted of seven regular paper sessions, one poster session and two special sessions. This paper provides a summary of the special session on responsible innovation, value sensitive design and standardization for smart metering in the context of smart grids that was organized on 24 April 2013.
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The workshop consisted of two parts. In the first part an introduction was given by key note speakers into the topic of responsible innovation and value sensitive design and how these topics can be applied to standardization. In the second part of the workshop three propositions were presented and the audience was invited to participate in a discussion. The main goal of the workshop was to introduce the topic of responsible innovation to the standardization community and to discuss with the audience whether and how insights and tools from this phenomenon can be applied to standardization. Additionally, preliminary results from an on-going project in which the influence of stakeholder networks and standard flexibility on the societal acceptance of standards for socially responsible smart metering systems were shared. Keynote speakers involved included prof.dr. J. van den Hoven, prof.dr. I. van de Poel, dr. Theo Fens and dr. Geerten van de Kaa.

Van den Hoven talked about the topic of responsible innovation which is a form of ethics and technology development. Van den Hoven referred to the Lund declaration which emphasizes that ‘European research must focus on the grand challenges of our time’. He stressed that the grand challenges (e.g. climate change and sustainable energy) are mentioned in the UN millennium goals and are potential focus areas of Horizon2020 (the European Union framework for research and innovation). Van den Hoven argued that innovations should be geared to these grand challenges and argues that if we do not do so the innovations will not be successful and we will fail to benefit from the innovations. For example, in the Netherlands, the establishment and introduction of the electronic patient record system and the smart metering system failed because of the fact that security and privacy considerations (ethical aspects) were not sufficiently taken into account. Sometimes, it is difficult for technologies to satisfy different values simultaneously and trade-offs should be made. For example, in the case of Closed Circuit TV systems, the example used in the presentation of Van den Hoven, cameras that provide sharp images (and thus provide full security) will decrease consumer’s privacy considerably. He argues that the challenge is to come up with a technology that is both secure and that enables privacy. In fact, the challenge is to implement different values such as privacy and security in the technological artefacts that we develop (such as standards) (Van den Hoven, 2013).

One way to make sure that values are incorporated in the innovations that we develop is to apply the notion of value sensitive design which was explained by Van de Poel. Value sensitive design is: “A systematic attempt to include values of ethical importance in design”. In this respect it is important to identify the stakeholders involved and their values, understand what these values entail, and how these values can be embodied in the design (Friedman, Kahn, & Borning, 1996). According to Van de Poel, this may be accomplished by translating the values into specific design requirements for technological artefacts such as standards (in fact, many standards are inspired by considerations of safety, compatibility or security). Van de Poel explained the notion of a values hierarchy in which values (such as safety) are translated to norms (such as reduction of risks) which are subsequently translated to design requirements (concrete goals). Using this notion it is possible to translate values to norms and design requirements but it can also be used to reconstruct the values and norms that underlie specific design choices so as to possibly arrive at additional design requirements that were not taken into account prior (Van de Poel, 2013).

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