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The ORBIT framework for Responsible Research and Innovation in ICT✎
The ORBIT framework is a tool that helps those involved in R&I in ICT to do so responsibly. The framework consists of a set of scaffolding questions that allow researchers, funders and other stakeholders to consider a range of aspects of ICT research.
This framework for RRI in ICT builds on and incorporates the broader EPSRC framework. It draws on research undertaken in the Framework for Responsible Research and Innovation in ICT to provide more detailed insights into how principles of RRI can be implemented.
This framework is informed by characteristics that are typical for ICT, notably the high speed of innovation and diffusion, ubiquity and pervasiveness of ICT, the difficult distinction between applied and fundamental research, the logical malleability of ICT many artefacts and the problem of many hands that renders it particularly difficult to hold individuals accountable for the consequences of ICT use.
How do I use the Framework?
The framework consists of a set of questions that allow a researcher, funder, policymaker or other interested party to structure the way they think about research. It can be used to gain an overview of all sorts of different aspects of RRI in ICT. It can furthermore be utilised to gain insight into specific issues, questions or applications.
Framework Headings Explained
- Anticipate - Describing and analysing the impacts, intended or otherwise, (e.g. economic, social, environmental) that might arise. This does not seek to predict but rather to support an exploration of possible impacts and implications that may otherwise remain uncovered and little discussed.
- Reflect - Reflecting on the purposes of, motivations for and potential implications of the research, and the associated uncertainties, areas of ignorance, assumptions, framings, questions, dilemmas and social transformations these may bring.
- Engage - Opening up such visions, impacts and questioning to broader deliberation, dialogue, engagement and debate in an inclusive way.
- Act - Using these processes to influence the direction and trajectory of the research and innovation process itself.
What does the Framework consist of?
The Framework maps the four main components of the EPSRC AREA principles against four core aspects of RRI:
- Process refers to the processes undertaken in research and innovation. These cover all activities in preparing research, undertaking data collection and analysis, storage and presentation of data and interaction with respondents.
- Product, RRI is specifically interested in the outcomes of research and innovation activities. This can refer to products or services. It includes the consequences of use as well as misuse of research products and the impact that research has on the natural and social environment.
- Purpose. Critical scrutiny in RRI extends beyond the conduct (process) and outcome (product) of research and covers the question why research is undertaken at all. The purpose of research is a crucial factor influencing acceptability and desirability and thus open to scrutiny.
- People. Research and innovation are undertaken by people and for people and have intended and unintended consequences for people. People are at the heart of RRI and need to be explicitly considered.
By mapping the AREA principles against the PPPP components of RRI, this framework creates the space to think about details of how RRI can be made relevant to ICT.