GEOINNO2020 conference refelctions by Kwadwo Atta-Owusu, University of Stavanger

Innovation is widely promoted as a tool for driving economic growth, and policy-makers seek to harness innovation’s positive externalities to accelerate that growth. But although innovation is undoubtedly positive, it can bring negative consequences, something largely neglected to date. It was refreshing that an animated discussion emerged around the “The Dark Side of Innovation” at GEOINNO. Two sessions deserve particular highlighting. A special session (chaired by Elisa Giuliani) addressed the potential ethical, social, and environmental challenges with transitioning toward big data usage and Artificial Intelligence. A related session provided diverse empirical evidence of the problem’s enormity. Gianluca Biggi and colleagues’ presented “What is boiling in the pot? On Patent toxicity of globally banned chemical” whilst Hasen & Nygaard offered “The dark side of the sun: avoiding a solar waste crisis”.

A recurring question in my mind as I listened attentively was ‘what approaches can be utilized to address these concerns?’ Some papers hinted possible approaches. Saemundsson and McKelvey emphasized the importance of “innovation governance” between scientific research and clinical practice.

This relates the RUNIN’s research theme exploring universities’ changing roles in regional innovation governance. As innovation becomes increasingly collaborative and open, a network system is required where each actor oversees the actions (or inactions) of others, and this provides a strong starting point for future research and policy discussions.

Read more about Kwadwo and his research here.

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