What is Technology Assessment?
Technology Assessment is a concept, which embraces different forms of policy analysis on the relation between science and technology on the one hand, and policy, society and the individual on the other hand. Technology Assessment typically includes policy analysis approaches such as foresight; economic analysis; systems analysis; strategic analysis etc.
More concretely, TA could for example make policy analysis about:
- The energy situation.
- Working conditions in the light of increasing ICT work.
- Globalisation and labour market competences.
- GMO and environment.
- Privacy in e-government.
- Potential of nanotechnology in health care.
The project database on this website gives a more covering picture of the issues dealt with in Technology Assessment at the EPTA member organisations.
Technology Assessment has three dimensions (Note 1):
And TA has three objects (Note: 2):
- The cognitive dimension - creating overview on knowledge, relevant to policy-making.
- The normative dimension - establishing dialogue in order to support opinion making.
- The pragmatic dimension - establish processes that help decisions to be made.
- The issue or technology
- The social aspects
- The policy aspects
TA has been defined in numerous ways. One definition, which fits Parliamentary Technology Assessment well (Note: 2):
"Technology Assessment (TA) is a scientific, interactive and communicative process, which aims to contribute to the formation of public and political opinion on societal aspects of science and technology."
The EPTA organisations have a specific attribute by fully or partly having obligations towards parliaments. This means in practice that formal policy-making is part of the focus for the TA activities.
There are other TA - or TA-related - organisations working outside the political domain, and an overview of these can be found at the website of ITA - the Austrian member of EPTA:
TA on the web
1: According to the EUROPTA project, established by EPTA members. www.tekno.dk/europta "Participatory Technology Assessment" ISBN 0-85374-803-9
2: According to the TAMI project, on which EPTA members took part. "Technology Assessment - Methods and Impacts" ISBN: 3-540-21283-3