NIRA Research Output 1990 Vol.3 No.2
Bringing Together Science and Society: A Proposal for a Biohistory
Modern science has provided society with all sorts of conveniences. But just as it has not been necessary for the driver to learn the technology of engine building in order to drive a car, so many of us have missed appreciating how much science impacts on our everyday lives. By taking the science and technology for granted, we have also missed the chance to see much of our world in its true beauty and true light, for the study of science can illuminate many fields of knowledge.
However, while the industrial technological revolution which began in the 18th century has changed our world markedly, the new technologies of microelectronics and biotechnology will produce an even greater impact on our life styles and our planet. While before, we may have had more of a choice whether or not to ignore science and technology, new advances compel us to reconsider our social organization and our outlook on life. The National Institute for Research Advancement (NIRA) has been researching how these new fields will affect people, and, in particular, what role Japan can play in helping people to understand, manage, and best utilize these fields. The program is titled "Policies for Dealing with the Development of New Scientific Technologies".
Much has been written about the impact of science and technology on modern society, but the reverse relationship is just as complex. Society also exerts a strong influence on science. Of course, in the ideal case, the objectives of a scientific study transcend cultural values, however, in reality, scientific developments take place a midst a particular social context, and the experimental design, as well as the interpretation of the results of the experiment itself, are in many ways a reflection of the particular cultural, traditional and environmental conditions of the researchers. Thus, the NIRA program has considered the circumstances for science in Japan, in order to propose a desirable environment for scientific research.
The issues of environment and tradition involve very abstract concepts, but in this report we have attempted to be as concrete as possible. In addition, while this report focuses primarily on the field of life science, our hope is that we can provide a clear understanding of the role for science so that this can be applied to research in other fields. If possible, we hope to create a new perspective in which to view all future scientific research.
We would like to express our appreciation to the research committee members for their guidance and to all others who contributed their ideas.
President, National Institute for Research Advancement
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