Every historical period has had its epidemic executioner, and it has almost always been the ecological changes between human communities and the environment that have caused changes in pathogenicity and epidemic diseases.
Cultural accumulation changes what we are and what we do from one generation to the next and, as far as scientific knowledge is concerned, changes occur so quickly that we tend to imagine them as distant theories or very recent developments.
Society as a whole benefits from open science, and we can certainly think of it as being critical in responsible research and innovation. It is useful to separate these to some degree, however, for the purpose of understanding whether and how the use of standards could influence the robustness of RRI and OS.
Limited adoption of development standards suggests that we still do not understand why software is so difficult to produce. Software standardisation has been limited by our poor understanding of humans’ role at the origin of technological diversity.
Understanding standardisation as a form of social ordering makes visible aspects of standards that are otherwise obscure. It allows us to move past the immediately accessible at the bench, on the screen, and in text and talk.
The concept of standardization is linked to the industrial revolution and mass production of goods through assembly lines. The question we will try to answer is the extent to which standards can be achieved in the biological realm.
Synthetic biology goes one step further by incorporating conceptual frameworks from computing, electronics, and industrial design. This change makes it possible to conceive the creation of complex biological objects that were previously considered too difficult to assemble.
In the field of biotechnology and synthetic biology – which aims at studying living things from the point of view of engineering – standards are desirable, but it has yet to be proved that they can be widely adopted.
The problem with the handling of COVID-19 in the United States has been more political than public health-related. When a country has a president who «didn’t know» and thought that «most people didn’t know» that the flu can kill people, what can be expected in terms of the handling of a pandemic?
Most of the fake news that circulated on the web before this pandemic concerned health and became far more widespread than the real news. Unfortunately, this phenomenon has escalated with the global COVID-19 crisis.
At the time of publication of this issue, we are incredulously, insecurely, and helplessly witnessing a situation only comparable to that experienced in both twentieth-century World Wars. A global pandemic, which has once again placed the human species before a scenario that is as unprecedented and unknown as it is unpredictable.
We need to rethink many aspects of our daily lives, of our values, of our economic and cultural practices; in short, of our coexistence with the rest of nature and, especially, of our respect for non-human animals.
In addition to protective isolation, enhanced medical capacity, safer sociality and health oriented economic stimulus, we will need to turn our hearts, hands, and minds to reweaving and strengthening the complex and vital social web.
The threat of infectious diseases has been constant in the history of humankind. 75 % of new emerging human infectious diseases in the last thirty years have an animal origin, and 17 % are transmitted by a vector.
Oases are what they are, but the desert around them makes us perceive them as lavish. We live in a universe of mental oases and we do not give things the value they have, but the value we would like them to have.
We are indeed in an emergency. Let there be no doubt about that. But if there is one thing that is even more paralysing than not accepting the situation we are in, it is saying that our house is on fire and then calmly keep watching television.
If we want science to play a truly relevant social role, we must take the opposite path and respond with science to the questions and problems of individuals and society. We must treat is as a tool, not as the protagonist.
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