The Conceptual Dimension: Mainstream Understandings of Science & Technology Research and Innovation
The institutional landscape for security R&D, favouring technology development and strengthening industrial and market links, seems to be consistent with the understanding set out already in the first founding document launching the ESRP in 2004:
Europe needs to invest in a “security” culture that harnesses the combined and relatively untapped strengths of the “security” industry and the research community in order to effectively and innovatively address existing and future security challenges. (EC 2004, p. 2)
This framing accommodates sensitive, and, according to some, controversial research areas under the EU multi-annual Framework Programmes (Edler and James 2015). Viewing innovation for civil security through the lenses of technology development, market competitiveness, and economic growth has been common also in the general framing of EU research. The internal impact assessment for Horizon 2020 pursued, by and large, a market-driven, growth-oriented paradigm for all Societal Challenges (EC 2011). Similarly, the new composite EU Innovation Output indicator reflects the prevalence of the technology-market nexus, measured in a pure econometric style along four components (technological innovation by patents; employment in knowledge-intensive activities; competitiveness of knowledge-intensive goods and services; employment in fast-growing firms of innovative sectors) (EC 2013b).
In contrast to the above developments, the regime of science and technology (S&T) knowledge production has been constantly questioned and in transformation since the 1990s. Failures, due to non-intended and non- anticipated effects of S&T development, forced the research community to think about conditions for societally more inclusive and robust knowledge production mechanisms. Such developments gave rise to the ‘Mode 2’ of knowledge production (Gibbons et al. 1994; Nowotny et al. 2001; Fondation Sciences Citoyennes 2009). Accordingly, Mode-2 knowledge is produced within the context of application, is targeted toward problem solving, and is rather trans-disciplinary and trans-sectoral. A parallel call for an S&T paradigm shift, aimed at transforming the way R&D is managed and used by policy, was instigated using the term ‘Post-normal Science’. When societal stakes in public policy are extraordinarily high, while uncertainty, complexity, and value conflicts are equally high, policy makers or scientists alone cannot be the only ones entrusted with decisions (Funtowicz and Ravetz 1990; Kolliarakis 2013a). This has made the strong case for a move towards a participatory mode of scientific inquiry, inclusive of societal actors (Jasanoff 2009).
A series of examples from security governance in the fields of manmade and natural disasters, terrorism, and political or religious extremism, international organized crime, or cyber-threats, illustrate the above prob- lematique: recent deployment of mass, non-targeted surveillance in public space, mining and harvesting of ‘big data’ produced by citizens’ transactions, or function creep of pattern recognition and detection technologies for both military (e.g. battlefield operations) and civil application (e.g. border control, emergency response) have raised pressing questions about ethics, fundamental rights, and racial and social discrimination.
Civil society engagement receives thereby a normative and a functionalist/instrumental justification: from a normative side, participation should complement the representation pillar of democracy and materialize inclusive and accountable governance of public security. From the functionalist side, civil society participation should make knowledge production and technology development more responsive to factual needs and concerns on the ground and enhance the positive impact of security policies, while helping to pre-empt/mitigate negative undesirable consequences (Fondation Sciences Citoyennes 2009).
Applied to the ESRP, the Commission welcomed in 2009, at least on paper, the accommodation of human and social aspects of security by fostering a stronger role for the public in security research as a function of ‘societal resilience’:
No security technology can in fact be a security solution in the long term
without the active participation (and acceptance) by the public at large ....
A societal security approach implies a vision of security that does not focus on prevention and protection at all costs but rather, features in the capacity of our societies to face risks, and at times losses, and to recover from them. Such a “societal resilience” depends on the free will of informed citizens as much as on the quality of technical systems and on business continuity capabilities of companies and administrations. (EC 2009, p. 3)
This recommendation can be read as a warning against mistaking high- tech inventions for acceptable and effective ‘innovative’ measures to enhance societal security, and it explicitly associates citizen involvement with the legitimate achievement of policy goals (Kolliarakis 2016a).
Alternative frames for non-technological or social innovation have already been in place in the EC within different policy venues. Scientific advisers had expressed the concern internally that enormous bottom-up potential for innovation lies untapped in European societies (Empowering People, Driving Change: Social Innovation in the European Union, BEPA 2011). In a similar vein, the Monitoring Activities of Science in Society Group at the EC sought to ensure that S&T innovation was rooted in society and was responsive to its needs, by advancing civil society participation from an optional desideratum to a policy requirement for transparency, accountability, and legitimacy of research processes (MASIS 2009). Such a bi-directional transaction model, replacing transmission consultations, should reinforce trust in institutions, and solidarity among stakeholder groups. The official Council decision establishing Horizon 2020 prescribes a similar frame:
[T]he aim is to foster the development of innovative societies and policies in Europe through the engagement of citizens, enterprises and users in research and innovation and the promotion of coordinated research and innovation policies in the context of globalisation and the need to promote the highest ethical standards .... Cultural and societal knowledge is a major source of creativity and innovation, including business, public sector and social innovation. (European Council 2012, p. 119)
While decision-making on the Science-Policy-Society interface is bound to remain a tense affair due to diverging interests (Liberatore and Funtowicz 2003), the requirements for transforming the relationships among researchers, policy makers and society have been lately recognized both outside (ESF 2013), and within the Commission (EC 2012c). In the context of ‘Science and Society’ (FP6), and ‘Science in Society’ (FP7), as well as in the current ‘Science with and for Society’ (Horizon
2020) funding programmes, the broadinclusion of societal actors and their agendas has been in the focus of research activities. A major development in this respect, has been the EC template of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI), prescribing a set of principles that have to be respected in order to enhance innovative potential of R&D processes and outcomes. Inclusiveness via engagement of citizens and CSOs in R&D is, for example, about bringing on board the widest possible diversity of actors, and co-creating future EU societies in an accountable and responsible way.4 In a key EC report about ethical and regulatory challenges, focusing on ICT and security technologies, RRI is defined as
a transparent, interactive process by which societal actors and innovators become mutually responsive to each other with a view on 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). (EC 2012c, p. 44)
Such consciousness has caused controversies in other technology fields, such as nanotechnology, genetic modification of organisms, and has in the meantime also spilled over into the security technology field, namely, terahertz spectroscopy (body scanners), unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) and CCTV in public space, and mass data collection via spy software. Lack of adequate assessment and evaluation of ethical, legal, social, and political aspects of security technology application, in combination with non-disclosure of evidence by authorities, has led on a number of occasions to severe criticism, and low acceptance—if not outright opposition—by citizens and CSOs (Kolliarakis 2014b, 2016a). A series of recent Eurobarometer surveys has elucidated framings from the ‘bottom-up’, by documenting EU citizens’ perceptions and attitudes in the context of technology development and security provision. Specifically, citizens’ responses demonstrate the expectation of rather positive future impacts from security technology R&D,5 but also their explicit support for the Precautionary principle is the case of risky technologies with ambivalent consequences.6 When it comes to contemporary practices of threat protection, EU citizens prefer that CSOs and citizens themselves are also entrusted with the task of security provision, besides just law enforcement agencies, the judiciary, and the military.7
The availability of ‘alternative’ frames receptive to societal agendas and open to CSO involvement, in parallel to the prevailing high-tech, market-centred innovation mantras, also central to the ESRP, open possibilities where ethical, legal and societal aspects (ELSA) are not corollary, optional 'add-ons’ to R&D during the research cycle. The predominant, mainstream frame of security-as-technological-fix (ESF 2015; Kolliarakis 2013b, 2014a) has reserved only a marginal and weak role for CSOs, most of the time as disseminators of results for the sake of acceptance, with integration sometimes having for them an aftertaste of co-optation. As long as the ESRP is centred in the context ofdevelopment R&D is bound to be trapped in agendas serving industry, SMEs, and RTOs. If security research is placed in the societally ‘thick’ context of application., in terms of ELSA, it could incorporate more prominently issues of effective and accountable security provision important to the civil society. In this respect ELSA is viewed, alternatively, as the context in which security R&D is de facto embedded, and which may valorize, or simply scrap security R&D outcomes, as the ex-post evaluation of the FP7 ESRP has documented (EC 2015a).