About Us

Program on Emerging Technologies (PoET)

This multidisciplinary program examines the nature and effects of emerging technologies; conducts research on key areas of uncertainty on these issues; and offers recommendations for improving the capacity of public and private institutions to address risks in the face of irreducible uncertainty. The program applies theories and methods from the discipline of political economy to issues in science and technology policy. It is headed by Kenneth Oye, former CIS Director and Associate Professor of Political Science and Engineering Systems.

PoET was launched with funding from NSF IGERT to integrate research and training for doctoral students from Political Science, the Engineering Systems Division, and the Program on Science, Technology and Society.

In the past five years, PoET has focused on advanced biotechnologies. One set of projects centers on addressing environmental and security implications of synthetic biology in partnership with the MIT Synthetic Biology Center, the NSF Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center, and the Woodrow Wilson Center. Another set of projects centers on improving the integration of information on safety, efficacy and effectiveness in pharmaceuticals licensing in partnership with the MIT Center for Biomedical Innovation (CBI) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

Policy Outreach

To engage with relevant policy communities, PoET presents its research in meetings with significant governmental and intergovernmental representation organized AAAS, the United Nations, World Health organization, National Research Council, European Union, and International Risk Governance Council. In addition, PoET convenes small closed meetings and workshops to encourage candid discussion. For example, PoET organized a closed meeting on synthetic biology security issues at MIT with participation of the FBI, the Departments of Defense and State, Lincoln Laboratories, the UN Biological Weapons Convention Implementation Support Unit, and Public Health Canada.

In 2013-2014, PoET Director Kenneth Oye also served on the NRC Board on Global Science and Technology and the NRC Committee on Ethical Implications of Security Applications of Emerging Technologies.