Open Science Summit July 29-31 Berkeley, iHouse: Updating the Social Contract for Science

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From July 29-31, scientists, hackers, students, patients, and activists will convene to discuss the future of our science/technology paradigm. Topics include: Synthetic Biology, Personal Genomics, Gene Patents, Open Access/Data, the Future of Scientific Publishing and Reputation, Microfinance for Science, DIY Biology, Bio-security, and more. Registration available at opensciencesummit.com

What could be more important than making Science and Technology work more effectively for all humanity? Why isn't their a conference examining the most crucial policy questions affecting the future of science? Now there is. The Network for Open Scientific Innovation, in partnership with the Berkeley Students for Free Culture chapter, with support from Creative Commons and Premiere Media Partner New Scientist, are pleased to announce the first Open Science Summit.

From July 29-31, scientists, hackers, students, patients, and activists will convene to discuss the future of our science/technology paradigm. Topics include: Synthetic Biology, Personal Genomics, Gene Patents, Open Access/Data, the Future of Scientific Publishing and Reputation, Microfinance for Science, DIY Biology, Bio-security, and more.

"We're in serious trouble," said conference founder and lead organizer Joseph Jackson. "In the midst of the greatest economic and ecological crises of history, there is the expectation that we'll innovate our way out of the mess we've made. The ironies are rich and the venue appropriate: the inaugural Open Science Summit is held at Berkeley, which received the largest corporate grant in the university's history from BP only a short time ago. Synthetic biology, a field of tremendous promise, could prevent and mitigate environmental catastrophes like the one we're experiencing. Yet, the role of Big Oil/Big Energy in funding this set of technologies, and the modern research university's dependency on this money, raises hard questions that must be answered. Will we choose an 'open source' path for developing synthetic biology platforms, transparently assessing the safety risks and preventing any one actor from achieving a monopoly, so that everyone shares the economic benefits?

"When Berkeley announced an option for incoming members of this year's freshman class to participate in a genomics study, the move was immediately criticized by several prominent ethics groups. Yet the age of personal genomics is here, like it or not. Discouraging students from exploring this frontier seems out of touch at best, paternalistic at worst."

The UC system is under siege with budget cuts that threaten to gut the very foundations of California's knowledge economy. In the final insult to already serious injuries, Nature Publishing Group and the UC library system are currently engaged in a standoff over proposed hikes in subscription fees to the world's most prestigious set of journals. It is crystal clear that the practices and institutions that comprise our Scientific Establishment are badly strained, and arguably crumbling in the face of rapid technological and economic change.

A courageous contingent of early adopters is blazing a path toward greater collaboration and transparency in science. But these few champions of Open Science can't do it alone. The taxpayer, the citizen, the patient... for the most part are unaware of the severity of the challenges and the stakes. Only by convening a broad set of actors can we bring outside pressure to bear to update the social contract for science. Join us to stand and demand an Open Science, one that works efficiently for everyone right now, when we need it most.

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