The Kavli Center at the 2023 Falling Walls Science Summit

Falling Walls Circle – Round Table: Integrating Ethics and the Public into Scientific Discovery

November 23, 2023

This November, founding faculty member, Jodi Halpern, and Executive Director, Lea Witkowsky, traveled to Berlin, Germany to participate in the annual Falling Walls Science Summit. The UC Berkeley Kavli Center for Ethics, Science, and the Public was featured with Jodi Halpern in a panel on day two of the summit titled, "Integrating Ethics and Public Engagement into Scientific Discovery". Organized and supported by the Kavli Foundation, this session discussed how to break the walls of academic silos and barriers between science and public as well as the ways to engage the public proactively and intentionally in ethical considerations born from scientific discovery.

Jodi Halpern joined publicly-engaged neuroscientist, Lomax Boyd, and the Cambridge Kavli Center's Director, Anna Middleton, in a conversation about what it means to do science for societal benefit, what do scientists need to learn about ethics and the public, and how do we earn trust. 

24:03 "..scientists might want to talk about the science, but what the public wants to talk about is what does this really mean for my life and can I really trust you? Are you using me, are you exploiting me for financial reasons, and ...what company made this, what agenda is there here? And so to me, there's such a huge opportunity... but the worst thing is when we get a grant to like, 'create public trust', you know, make the public trust us so we can do whatever we want to do. No. We as scientists and academics and creators of products need to be trustworthy, that's the whole point." – Jodi Halpern

27:41 "...research shows that experts, which includes actually philosophers and ethicists as well as physical scientists, expert academics think about ethics extremely different than the way the general public think about ethics. ...Even if you are an expert, when you think about actually in your life, not in your job, you're going to think like the general public. And the way we in the general public think, because we're all part of that, is about are you treating me fairly and do you respect me? Rights and duties. And that is not part of the model which is utilitarianism or benefit versus harm at a mass level that scientists are taught to think about." – Jodi Halpern

Watch the session at the Falling Walls website or by clicking the video on this page.