What role for law, human rights, and bioethics in an age of big data, consortia science, and consortia ethics? The importance of trustworthiness

Edward S. Dove, Vural Özdemir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The global bioeconomy is generating new paradigm-shifting practices of knowledge co-production, such as collective innovation; large-scale, data-driven global consortia science (Big Science); and consortia ethics (Big Ethics). These bioeconomic and sociotechnical practices can be forces for progressive social change, but they can also raise predicaments at the interface of law, human rights, and bioethics. In this article, we examine one such double-edged practice: the growing, multivariate exploitation of Big Data in the health sector, particularly by the private sector. Commercial exploitation of health data for knowledge-based products is a key aspect of the bioeconomy and is also a topic of concern among publics around the world. It is exacerbated in the current age of globally interconnected consortia science and consortia ethics, which is characterized by accumulating epistemic proximity, diminished academic independence, “extreme centrism”, and conflicted/competing interests among innovation actors. Extreme centrism is of particular importance as a new ideology emerging from consortia science and consortia ethics; this relates to invariably taking a middle-of-the-road populist stance, even in the event of human rights breaches, so as to sustain the populist support needed for consortia building and collective innovation. What role do law, human rights, and bioethics—separate and together—have to play in addressing these predicaments and opportunities in early 21st century science and society? One answer we propose is an intertwined ethico-legal normative construct, namely trustworthiness. By considering trustworthiness as a central pillar at the intersection of law, human rights, and bioethics, we enable others to trust us, which in turns allows different actors (both nonprofit and for-profit) to operate more justly in consortia science and ethics, as well as to access and responsibly use health data for public benefit.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)515-540
Number of pages26
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 20 Aug 2015

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • big data
  • big ethics
  • bioethics
  • commercial use
  • consortia ethics
  • consortia science
  • extreme centrism
  • global governance
  • trustwortiness
  • health

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