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Deliberating Converging Technologies – An International Comparative Perspective on Public Engagement with Emerging Technologies Preface to the Special Edition

The article is the preface to a special issue of the International Journal of Emerging Technologies and Society (iJETS). It starts with some background to the theme of the special edition - public engagement of emerging technologies - and provides short summaries of the included articles. The papers display a wide range of participation cultures and institutional settings of engagement. They elaborate on the performance of deliberative dialogues, methodological aspects of engagement, and their relation to (political) decision-making contexts. The contributions report on national experiences from the Netherlands, Germany and the United States, focus on different ways of ‘designing’ participatory governance of emerging technologies and take a citizens’ perspective on the value of structured deliberations. Altogether the contributions reveal that the discussions about converging technologies are closely related to further developments in nanotechnologies in combination with a new stream of scientific and technological advances. Although the quantity and quality of communication over emerging technologies between science and the public has increased over the past years, the articles indicate that the relevant social systems may still be too isolated. However, the ongoing discourses at the intersection of science and society provide conceptual orientations for future discussions about a responsible shaping of technological innovations.