In meeting the social, political and environmental challenges of the 21st century, the development of new technologies will play a central role. These developments are characterized by an increasing speed and complexity. The urgency of some of the 21st-century challenges require rapid responses, the number of challenges require parallel technological responses, and the rise and acknowledgement of multiple stakeholders make that responses are not only technologically but also socially complex. People will therefore be confronted by rapid and publicly discussed technological developments that acquire the character of quick interventions rather than planned and slowly enfolding possibilities. The risk of societal rejection of these developments is therefore realistic.
Moral and social values
Our vision is that technological developments in the 21st century, whether necessary to meet our challenges or made possible through new breakthroughs, only become acceptable when they are designed for the moral and social values people hold. For governing these developments successfully, setting longer term policy and research goals and organizing public debates will be instrumental yet not be sufficient. By the rapid and parallel occurrence of technological developments, governance needs to be complemented by mechanisms that guide technological developments while they unfold.