SGR produces a range of resources on the issue of 'Emerging technologies'. This covers a wide range of new and controversial technologies such as hydraulic fracturing (fracking), artificial intelligence and autonomous systems, climate/ geo-engineering, genetically-modified organisms and synthetic biology, and nanotechnologies. An explicit concern is the adequate application of the precautionary principle, and the possible alternatives to emerging technologies, including 'appropriate' technology and non-technological solutions such economic, political or social change.

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Science and technology have contributed to huge changes in human society, bringing many benefits, but also helping to cause global scale problems. Using a series of examples from the past century or so, this presentation examines the balance of costs and benefits, and argues that the role of science and technology in society needs to change, if we are not to be overhwhelmed by the problems we now face.

Presentation by Dr Stuart Parkinson, SGR, at the What is science for? teachers' conference, Widnes, Cheshire, UK

25 February 2012