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Innovation should emphasize social impact, technological development

ZHA JIANGUO, LI YU | 2017-08-07
(Chinese Social Sciences Today)

Technological innovation should emphasize morality and social impact. For example, for safety reasons, bike-sharing companies in China have announced that children under the age of 12 are forbidden from using the bikes.

Research on innovation should not be confined to theoretical discussion, but go deeper into praxis to drive the modernization process through innovative ideas. On July 20 and 21, scholars discussed innovation related issues at an annual academic conference in Shanghai titled “Innovation Drives Modernization.”


New requirements
Innovation is a form of practice. Dong Zhenhua, the deputy dean of the teaching and research department of philosophy of the Party School at the CPC Central Committee, said innovative practice brings together the ideal and reality. It is necessary to integrate the essence of science and humanities with instrumental and value rationality to understand the human world. Practice, particularly innovative practice, bridges these elements. Innovative practice embodies a type of criticism grounded in the scientific spirit.

Innovative practice poses new challenges to academic research. Guo Qingsong, deputy headmaster of the Party school of Shanghai Municipal Party Committee, said academic research has to understand general trends in technological advances. The most popular issues in the field of science and technology include reforms of traditional industries driven by mobile internet, high-end microchips and cloud computing, together with the exploration of new resources, the development of emerging and environmentally friendly industries, as well as breakthroughs in fundamental disciplines. These are the key fields that academic research should remain up to date with. He added that scholars should know the characteristics of scientific innovations and keep the domestic situation in mind in innovative practice.


Human oriented
Humanity should always be one aspect that receives attention. Wang Kedi, dean of the teaching and research office of Modern Science and Technology and Scientific Philosophy at the Party School of the CPC Central Committee, said innovation involves values decisions in the internet era. Every single individual should be encouraged to find one’s niche in society. This is the responsibility of government and also one aspect that should be considered in particular in the formulation of public policies.

How can we realize progress under the innovation strategy? Zhang Chumei, dean of the teaching and research department of philosophy at the Party School of the Shanghai Municipal Committee, pointed out that “responsible innovation” is becoming a crucial strategic idea of technological development. As for responsible innovation, responsibility is not only valid in the application of technologies, but also embedded in the agenda setting of technological innovation, while revealing the ethics of responsible innovation via public policy choices that seek to overcome the issues posed by technology and ethics, promoting innovation efficiency.

Zhang said the emergence and rise of responsible innovation results from cultural reflection on technological risks. How can technological activities show responsibility? How can one choose a path grounded in an ethical approach to technology? These issues are at the core of cultural reflection on technological risks.

In addition, the change in the production model of modern scientific knowledge means that the performance evaluation of innovation should emphasize both its scientific contribution and social impact. Meanwhile, responsible innovation is not only presented in reshaping the responsibility of the subject of innovation, but also targeted at the integration of innovative activities and social ethics, thus guiding the public interest, Zhang added.


Inner dynamics
Innovation requires self-confidence. Confidence is part of the drive toward innovation. Wang Tianen, a professor of philosophy from Shanghai University, argued that big data means large-scale, non-sampling, presupposition-free comprehensive information. Big data promotes the digitization of materials and materialization of data, as well as digitization of information and informatization of data, thus uniting the quantified and the constructed worlds.

From a philosophical perspective, big data embodies the following features: huge quantity, full and intact scale, open structure, promptness, and low density of useful information. Therefore, in the big data era, traditional causal relationships between various phenomena are quantized, gradually losing their original inevitability and directivity, which means researchers face the theoretical task of expanding various cause-effect models to account for the new information that is being generated. Facing challenges and opportunities brought about by big data, it is necessary to keep our self-confidence in innovation and promote theoretical advancement to fully make use of big data.