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The Ethics and Social Implications of Active Genetics


Recent breakthroughs in gene editing — including gene drive technology — make it clear there are both powerful opportunities to alter genes for the common good and substantial ethical considerations that must be addressed. As gene drives graduate from experimentation to practical application, the expertise developed both at UC San Diego and beyond will be crucial in considering the opportunities and risks of transformational impact on a local, and well as global, scale.

In collaboration with the UC San Diego Tata Institute for Genetics and Society, the Institute for Practical Ethics supports a research program on the ethics of active genetics. This program includes the formation of the Ethics of Active Genetics Working Group, workshops on the ethics of active genetics, and the training of scientists.

The inaugural Ethics and Social Implications of Gene Drive Conference was held May 9-10, 2019.

The Ethics and Social Implications of Active Genetics

Learn more about this research initiative, including information about the Working Group on Active Genetics

Active Genetics

The Ethics and Social Implications of Data Science


Information on all members of society now exists in various databases, and the ability to analyze enormous amounts of data is reshaping how governments, businesses and other entities made decisions. However, ethical standards for data designed for a pre-computer age are of limited utility, and the use of “big data” raises a host of social and ethical questions.

In conjunction with the Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute and Division of Social Sciences, the Institute for Practical Ethics sponsors a workshop addressing the rise of big data: the combination of the production and retrieval of large amounts of digital information with powerful algorithms on a hardware platform of ever-increasing capacity. It gathers social and computer scientists, activists and practitioners interested in the ethics and policy implications of this technological revolution.

The industry leaders survey the achievements, promises and technical challenges of big data, its effects on social inequalities and democracy, the cultural shift it is generating in the way we value knowledge, create art and conduct science, and the ways we may control it and influence its progress.

The inaugural workshop was held Feb.15-16, 2019.

The Ethics and Social Implications of Data Science

Learn more about this research initiative, including information about the Working Group on Data Analytic Governance and Accountability

Data Science

The Ethics and Social Implications of the Environment


Climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution and more all raise many ethical, philosophical and social questions. What does justice demand in the face of climate change? What do we value in biodiversity? How can we better achieve environmental justice?

New technology and knowledge allow novel possibilities for dealing with some of these problems, from geoengineering the climate to using genetic engineering in conservation. The Institute for Practical Ethics is committed to supporting work tackling these problems. Examples include talks by Andrew Light on climate policy (PDF) and Emma Marris on the future of conservation.

Additionally, affiliated researchers are also actively pursuing work in these areas, including postdoctoral scholar Daniel Callies’ book “Climate Engineering: A Normative Perspective.”

The institute will host an Ethics of Climate Technology conference in March 2020.

 

Science Communications


Conveying the transformative potential of science is a critical task for researchers, yet large gaps sometimes exist between the public understanding of science and expert understanding. While it is important for the public to understand facts, research tells us that most public disagreements over science are actually about values and ethics.

Communications training challenges scientists to consider how descriptions of their research may lead to value conflicts with the public, and how to defuse reactions that may get in the way of clear understanding of scientific aims.

The Institute for Practical Ethics and the UC San Diego Research Communications Program have partnered in designing training that challenges scientists to consider how descriptions of their research may lead to value conflicts with the public, and how to defuse reactions that may get in the way of clear understanding of scientific aims.

Read “Science, Values, and Science Communication: Competencies for Pushing Beyond the Deficit Model” by Sherry Seethaler, John H. Evans, Cathy Gere and Ramya M. Rajagopalan, published May 2019 in Science Communication.