Planting seeds for the development of science and technology

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Whether gene editing is reliable or not, how to regulate artificial intelligence... In recent years, accompanied by major breakthroughs in disruptive technology, there are also scientific and technological ethics issues. Science and technology ethics education is imminent——

Planting seeds for the development of science and technology

Guangming Daily reporter Denghui

"Is science and technology neutral?" He has taught the course "science, technology and engineering ethics" for five years, but Yu Xue, an associate professor of the Department of Humanities and social sciences of Dalian University of technology, will still raise this question every new semester.

Almost every time, more than 80% of students will choose this: Science and technology itself is neutral, and its use effect depends only on the users.

"Science and technology ethics is a value criterion that must be observed in science and technology activities, but many students are ignorant about it." In this 32 class hour and 2 credit course, Yu Xue used a variety of teaching methods such as case teaching, role playing and classroom debate, so as to make students understand that scientific research should not only have the courage and spirit of exploration and innovation, but also have the bottom line of morality, the red line of ethics and the high-voltage line of rules.

Such a voice will appear in more college classes.

Recently, the opinions on strengthening the governance of science and technology ethics issued by the general office of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the general office of the State Council put forward that "science and technology ethics education should be regarded as an important part of the education of undergraduates and postgraduates of relevant professional disciplines, colleges and universities should be encouraged to set up relevant courses of science and technology ethics education, and young students should be educated to establish correct awareness of science and technology ethics and abide by the requirements of science and technology ethics."

Voice: build an ethical firewall for science and technology

At the end of one semester of the course, Yu Xue found that students who originally only considered how to develop a technology better began to think about the value norms that should be upheld behind the technology. She often received such messages: "it is necessary to uphold the requirements of 'respecting academic ethics and adhering to the ethical bottom line'," scientific and technological innovation should not only be upward, but also be good "... The young teacher realized that he had planted a seed of good in the process of the rapid development of science and technology.

Visitors will experience the concert in the "metauniverse" through virtual reality technology at the 2022 World Mobile Communication Conference in Barcelona, Spain. Shen Jizhong

Science and technology ethics education is not familiar to many people. However, in the classroom, every teaching case and every value choice are closely related to our life - is it cheap but will produce a large amount of solid waste technology to treat industrial wastewater, or is it high-cost research and development of green technology? Is gene editing technology applicable? Is it against ethics to treat Internet addiction with electric shock?

"Science and technology ethics education is the teaching of knowledge and the improvement of relevant literacy around science and technology ethics." Lizhengfeng, deputy director of the Research Center for science and technology development and governance of Tsinghua University and professor of Sociology Department, told the reporter that science and technology ethics education shoulders three missions: first, enhance the awareness of science and technology ethics and enhance ethical sensitivity and sense of responsibility; The second is to understand what codes of conduct can be followed and keep the bottom line of scientific research; Third, it has the ability to deal with new scientific and technological ethical issues.

With the rapid development of science and technology, this course, which was once neglected in the curriculum of many colleges and universities, is becoming increasingly important.

"Imminent." Wuzhaohui, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and President of Zhejiang University, used these four words to describe the importance of science and technology ethics education in Colleges and universities, "Throughout the integration of science, technology and social development, the pursuit of goodness in science and technology has always been the eternal value of mankind. In particular, with the high integration and superposition of the fourth industrial revolution and the second machine revolution characterized by intelligence, the binary space between man and the physical world is transforming into the four dimensional space of man, the physical world, intelligent machines and the digital information world. Major breakthroughs in disruptive technology are accompanied by scientific and technological ethics issues "

Facing the challenge, many experts said that the current theoretical research and rule making of science and technology ethics in China are seriously lagging behind the development speed of scientific and technological innovation, and some scientific and technological personnel have not yet formed a good sense of self-discipline of science and technology ethics and a correct view of science and technology. Lizhengfeng found that, taking the total number of articles published by PubMed of the National Medical Library of the United States as the relative reference value, the number of withdrawals per 10000 English papers in China, the United States and Japan in the past four years was compared over the same period. As of June 2021, the number of withdrawals per 10000 papers in China was four times that of the United States and 10 times that of Japan.

"What is particularly dangerous is that the initiators of some serious Anomies of scientific and technological ethics are considered to be innovation leaders and have a large number of supporters." Lizhengfeng said that in this sense, education is one of the most basic tasks to set up an ethical firewall.

Challenge: lack of a sound scientific and technological ethics education system

At present, how about the development of science and technology ethics education in Colleges and universities in China?

The reporter found that with the frequent occurrence of scientific and technological ethics events, the policy documents guiding the construction of scientific research integrity and scientific and technological ethics in Colleges and universities have been continuously improved. Many colleges and universities have also opened a certain number of scientific and technological ethics education courses. For example, since september2014, Tsinghua University has required graduate students to take 16 class hours of academic norms and professional ethics courses; Since 2018, the course of engineering ethics has become a compulsory course for master's degree students majoring in engineering in China.

However, even with some exploration and accumulation, the education of science and technology ethics in Colleges and universities is still in its infancy, far from forming a science and technology ethics education system suitable for national conditions and development needs.

The reporter interviewed students from more than a dozen colleges and universities at random, and found that there were unbalanced and non-standard problems in different colleges and universities' attention to science and technology ethics education and the systematicness and richness of curriculum construction. Some high-level universities of science and engineering carry out well, but they are also subject to certain differences in understanding, teachers and other factors. Liberal arts universities offer relatively few relevant courses, and some local universities do not offer relevant courses.

Students from the intelligence and computing Department of Tianjin University debug the vehicle model in the sand table classroom. Shen Jizhong

Lizhengfeng said that the current science and technology ethics education in Colleges and universities is facing the challenge of "three deficiencies": the lack of systematic and in-depth research, systematic courses and standardized teaching materials.

"At present, although colleges and universities have set up courses related to science and technology ethics, most of them are elective courses, which are quite random and have not formed a relatively complete system of science and technology ethics courses. For example, a teacher started the course when he paid more attention to it. In a certain year, he may stop the course because he went abroad or for other reasons." Lizhengfeng also found that in the relevant courses of many schools, the teaching content lacks a basic framework. Some courses mainly introduce relevant western theories, while others are introducing more traditional scientific and technological ethics. "Generally speaking, the ethical positions conveyed by various teachers are quite confused."

This has a direct impact on students' cognition of scientific and technological ethics.

In 2018, Wang qianzeng, a professor in the Department of Humanities and social sciences of Dalian University of technology, led the research team to investigate the scientific and technological ethics cognition of students in dozens of science and engineering universities across the country. The results are not optimistic. "For example, when asked whether they would conduct risk assessment before the start of scientific research projects, only 19.6% of the people chose 'absolutely'; when it comes to the attitude of 'no forbidden zone for scientific research', only 6% of the people said 'totally disagree', and more than 60% of the people tend to agree." Wang Qian believes that there are some problems in the awareness of science and technology ethics among the interviewed students, such as concept dislocation, unbalanced understanding, and inconsistent knowledge and practice. The main reasons for these problems are that science and technology ethics education is not deep enough, the subject status is not high, the platform is not perfect, and the teaching means are insufficient.

Measures: pay equal attention to scientific and technological ethics research and teaching

On the one hand, there are an increasing number of scientific and technological ethics issues, and on the other hand, there is an urgent need to improve the scientific and technological ethics literacy of college students. Jiangxiaojuan, President of the Chinese society of administration and professor of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, called for the promotion of discipline construction in order to do a good job in science and technology ethics education, "Only by strengthening discipline construction can we have a team, a platform, a constantly updated knowledge system, a channel for senior officials' advice, and experts participating in the review of complex ethical issues, which will be more conducive to the self-development of the science and technology ethics education system and play a role in the national ethics governance system".

On the basis of strengthening discipline construction, how can we make science and technology ethics education better and better? Many experts offered suggestions.

Zhaixiaomei, member of the national science and technology ethics committee and professor of bioethics research center of Peking Union Medical College, believes that strengthening science and technology ethics education and a textbook that can reach a consensus is the beginning. In her practical teaching, she found that even the argumentation in some medical ethics textbooks had problems. "With the rapid development of science and technology, many of the problems we face are tense. How to make a value judgment and how to solve it between what is and what should be needs a consistent judgment. If we argue under their respective definitions, without the context of common dialogue, the education of scientific and technological ethics will have no meaning.".

Li Zhengfeng's thinking on curriculum construction is to set the course of "scientific research norms and scientific ethics" as a public compulsory course in Colleges and universities nationwide and carry out the education of "scientific research norms and scientific ethics" at different levels.

"The content of the science and technology ethics course in the undergraduate stage mainly focuses on the universal and basic ethical issues caused by science and technology. In the graduate stage, according to different majors, ethics courses focusing on professional fields are gradually set up." Lizhengfeng also reminded that we must pay attention to the application attribute of the course, increase the situation and case teaching, and do not talk about "science and technology ethics" as "science and technology ethics".

This test is the teaching wisdom and ability of the teachers. During the interview, many experts believed that the task of cultivating high-level talents in teaching and scientific research in the field of science and technology ethics education is very urgent.

"In the past, science and technology ethics courses were mostly undertaken by teachers of humanities, and some teachers of science and engineering majors participated in. However, there are more or less problems of 'two skins' and' each speaking his own way '. We must solve the problem of the deep integration of science and technology and ethics. A very important point is how teachers of science and engineering and teachers of science and technology ethics can have in-depth exchanges." The king said.

In addition, some experts called for strengthening the research on the frontier issues of science and technology ethics while paying attention to teaching construction, so as to do a good job in the transformation between scientific research and teaching.

Wuzhaohui suggested: "We should give full play to the interdisciplinary and talent intensive advantages of colleges and universities, carry out forward-looking research, especially strengthen ethical exploration in key fields such as life science, medicine and artificial intelligence, and timely avoid possible rule conflicts, social risks and ethical challenges brought about by innovation. At the same time, we should also promote the two-way linkage between scientific and technological ethics research and scientific and technological ethics education, discuss major topics of scientific and technological ethics, and strengthen the teaching cases and practice of scientific and technological ethics The development and design of practical courses. "

According to Wuyan, director of the Higher Education Department of the Ministry of education, the Ministry of education has launched the College of science and technology ethics education

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