#12 - Synthetic biology ethics in the academic and public spheres
Brandon Sepulvado (University of Chicago)
Monday, 30 Nov 21:15 - 22:00 CET
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Title: Synthetic biology ethics in the academic and public spheres
Author(s): Brandon Sepulvadoa
Affiliations: aNORC at the University of Chicago, Bethesda
Abstract: Synthetic biology research offers promising and innovative solutions to issues that impact most parts of society. However, synthetic biology research carries serious ethical implications, and individuals from multiple fields have begun to reflect on not only the range of ethical concerns but also possible solutions to them. This presentation responds to two questions: who is discussing synthetic biology ethics, and do concerns differ when addressing scientific versus public audiences? In order to answer these questions, I analyze data collected from the Web of Science and Twitter using bibliometric techniques and topic modeling. Results suggest that, although synthetic biology ethics has grown rapidly in roughly the last decade and is a subject of interest for researchers across disciplines, ethical discourse occupies a marginal position in the synthetic biology field; this is consistent across scholarly and public-facing engagements. Despite the relative lack of attention, topics of interest range from concrete technical issues to more abstract questions surrounding the definition of life and concerns about professional and governmental regulation. Academic- and public-oriented discussions tend to emphasize distinct topics.