The structure of social relations and the way people share information, form collective opinions and influence public decisions has undergone significant change in the twenty-first century, not least owing to new information technologies, which have led to new modes of social interaction.

In some cases, regulatory frameworks addressing the risk, effect and societal implications do not exist or have not kept pace with technical developments. Many technologies are under continuing development leading to applications that may not have been foreseen. They may be difficult to define and may, therefore, fall outside existing regulatory frameworks.

 Technical developments can occur rapidly in the field of biomedicine and may pose challenges to legislators and health professionals.

 New platforms for social interaction can create polarised debate within segregated communities around issues that may deserve broader and more inclusive reflection.

 Without efforts to promote public debate the voices of marginalised and vulnerable groups may be drowned out or overlooked.

Example Example

Germany - Public discourse on genome editing (2019)

The rapidly evolving gene editing technology CRISPR-Cas9 has been identified as a bioethical concern which is highly relevant to address by public debate, both for purposes of awareness raising and for mapping risks and benefits. Germany is one of the countries that has organised a broad public debate on the issue, see German example on the initiative Genomchirurgie im gesellschaftlichen Diskurs in 2019.


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