Technology assessment is the process of exploring the impacts of a new technology on people, social and governmental structures, and societies. Together, a technology assessment and environmental analysis can provide useful inputs into how a company or organization can develop a strong strategy. The acronym I use to remind me how to do a technology assessment is VIMP-SPC.
- First, explore and understand VIMP: the values, interests, motives, and perspectives of the people who will be making the ultimate decisions regarding how this technology will be used, regulated, traded, and continually improved
- Determine how this assessment of VIMP relates to SPC: the socioeconomic, political, and cultural environment. Consulting a previously completed environmental analysis may be useful here.
- Determine how the products of scientific and technological advancement – both basic research and applied R&D – interact with these forces to create social outcomes.
As new technologies are developed, and as existing technologies converge and coalesce into new capabilities for humanity, the “COMPLEXITY and RANGE of social, ethical and legal issues are likely to expand, not contract.” (Rodemeyer 2005) These effects can be either positive or negative, or a mix of both, or the effects may shift between the two extremes in response to other changes in the environment.
Drexler, K.E. (1986). Engines of Creation: The Coming Era of Nanotechnology, New York: Anchor Press, Doubleday.
Landon, B. (1997). Science Fiction After 1900: From the Steam Man to the Stars, New York: Twayne.
Rodemeyer, M., Sarewitz, D. & Wilsdon, J. (2005). The future of technology assessment. Washington, DC: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Retrieved on Nov 17, 2007 from http://www.wilsoncenter.org/topics/docs/techassessment.pdf