As underlined in Recommendation 2102 (2017) of the Parliamentary Assembly, developments in science and technology related to the field of genetics and genomics, neurosciences, big data, artificial intelligence and robotics offer many opportunities, but also raise alarming ethical and legal questions.
The need for public debate and appropriate consultation is clearly stated as a guiding principle in the Council of Europe Oviedo Convention (Article 28). However, considering the speed of technological change, this principle has to be carefully examined and also extended to applications of converging technologies (NBIC) outside the biomedical field.
Science and technology cannot contribute to progress unless, at the same time, there is democratic progress. Safeguarding human dignity requires new forms of open, informed and adversarial public debate, very early on in the process, involving not only lawmakers and experts but also non-governmental organisations, the general public and the media. Moreover, informed debate on scientific and technological developments and the ethical issues they raise also needs to be part of the school curricula.
The Assembly should therefore identify good practices and develop guidelines and recommendations to stimulate these new processes in the member States.