The Danish Board of Technology - a presentation
The Danish Board of Technology aims to further the technology debate,
assess technological impacts and options and advise the Danish Parliament
and the Government.
The Danish Board of Technology is an independent body established
by the Danish Parliament (the Folketing) under the Board of Technology
Act No. 375 of 14 June 1995.
The first Board of Technology was set up as a statutory body in
1986 and replaced by the present Board on 31 July 1995.
The Board of Technology comprises a Board of Governors, a Board
of Representatives and a secretariat.
Ten members and the chairman of the Board of Technology sit on the
Board of Governors. The Minister for Research appoints the chairman
and three members. The other members are appointed by the Minister
on recommendation from one of the following organisations:
The Industry and Trade Development Council, the Salaried Employees'
and Civil Servants' Confederation, the Danish Confederation of Trade
Unions, the Danish Employers' Confederation, a joint representative
of the National Association of Local Authorities and the Danish
Association of County Councils, the Danish Council for Adult Education
and the Danish Research Councils.
The Board of Representatives is composed of up to 50 members and
serves as a forum for open debate on topical issues related to technology
assessment. The Minister for Research appoints up to ten members
following a discussion with the Board of Governors. The other representatives
are appointed by organisations.
The Board of Technology is serviced by a secretariat of about 12
An appropriation of approx. DKK 12,5 million is set aside for the
Board of Technology. The Ministry of Research acts as the supervisory
authority of the Board.
The Board of Technology applies different methods for technology
assessment, for instance:
- - Expert analyses.
- - Methods directly involving citizens in the assessment process.
- - Education of the general public.
The Board of Technology launches projects with a view to offering
an overview and assessing new technology. Special emphasis is placed
on elucidating the interaction between technology, society and people.
The Board of Governors selects the issues to be processed on the
basis of an open compilation of ideas. Issues may be suggested by
the Board of Governors, the Board of Representatives, the secretariat,
members of the parliament, the government, authorities, researchers,
organisations and private citizens.
The Board of Technology publishes a range of publications with a
view to stimulating debate on technology. The magazine TeknologiDebat,
published six times annually, contains news stories, background
information, articles and debates, all primarily related to the
projects of the Board.
The Board publishes reports, books, newsletters, booklets and pamphlets
and may subsidise local activities generating debate on the issues
being addressed by the Board.
Advisor to the Folketing and the government
The Board of Technology acts as advisor to the Folketing and the
government. Advisory activities centre on answering specific questions
from members of the Folketing, organising hearings for parliamentary
committees or approaching ministers in relation to topical technological
In addition, the Board publish the newsletter From Board to
Parliament (Fra Rådet til Tinget). Once annually, the
Board of Technology reports to the Folketing and the government.
The Board of Technology follows international technological
development and disseminates information on technology assessments
and methods of technology assessment in other countries. These activities
are made possible through its membership in European Parliamentary
Technology Assessment Network (ETPA)
Activities of the Board of Technology
The Board of Technology conducts technology assessments with a view
to generating debate in the target groups which wit[ be undertaking
new activities. This also includes groups in society which do not
see the necessity of debating technology.
The Board is not charged with assessing the functionality of actual
technologies. As an example, an assessment of the performance of
certain windmills is beyond the scope of the Board. Focus must be
on opportunities for and impact on people, the environment and social
conditions. The objective is to clarify dilemmas and conflicts.
This does not necessarily mean that technology assessments have
to conclude in recommendations for a solution; however, technology
assessments may identify joint views, conflicts and options as the
first step towards finding a solution.
The Board of Technology always draws on the best available expertise
- in the widest sense - and often across professions and sectors.
This ensures that many elements and different values are represented
in the assessments. The activities of the Board should not be interpreted
as research, but the Board employs and disseminates research results.
The Board of Technology should strive to create improvements through
changes. Thus, its assessment results cannot avoid being controversial
in the sense that they inevitably pose demands to society and generate
The Board applies different methods for assessing technology
- Experts may conduct analyses which offer an overview of the
issues. If experts are requested to make assessments, the Board
of Technology normally makes certain to consult several experts
with different approaches, possibly by establishing an interdisciplinary
- Citizens may formulate objectives, visions, requirements and
needs. This can be effected by having participants critise existing
conditions and formulate visions and actions which could help
solving problems. In another method, a panel of citizens might
question a panel of experts at a conference and prepare a final
document presenting requirements and formulating objectives for
the applications of a technology. Scenario workshops and consensus
conferences are examples of such methods.
- Technology assessment may also centre on presenting information
to the participants to give them an opportunity to debate the
issues. This method provides them with a background for making
their own assessments. Thus, education of the general public could
be considered a method of promoting the population's own opportunities
for assessing technology. The Board of Technology considers it
an essential task to contribute to the development of methods
for assessing technology, especially in connection with methods
involving the people citizens, users and employees - affected
by the technology in question