Representative Subtheme Challenge:

CCA-07: Risk Communication

In the heart of a bustling town, a community gathers at a local park for a weekly "Tech Talk," where cutting-edge biotech advances and their implications are demystified. Here, AI-powered interactive displays and VR simulations provide an immersive experience, transforming complex scientific concepts into tangible, everyday understanding. This new tradition, fueled by accessible and engaging technology, bridges the gap between groundbreaking research and public knowledge, fostering a community deeply informed about biotech innovations, from self-healing materials to environmental biosensors. The ripple effect is profound – driving local job creation in tech and education sectors, bolstering the town's reputation as a hub of innovation, and reinforcing the national stance in global biotech leadership. This scenario underscores the transformative role of sustained investment in both technology and education, ensuring that the ideals of informed, responsible, and inclusive innovation are not just aspirations but the cornerstones of a thriving bioeconomy.

The effective communication of risks associated with biotechnological advancements poses a significant challenge. Misinformation can lead to public pushback and decreased adoption of beneficial technologies. The complexity of conveying technical science in layman's terms, coupled with evolving information channels like social media versus traditional news, requires a nuanced approach. There is urgency in managing societal acceptance.

CASA-Bio stakeholders representing government, industry, and non-profit sectors, identified areas of mutual interest where concerted effort among them may lead more quickly to the realization of the envisioned future. These are a few of their ideas. Research is needed on strategies for effectively communicating complex scientific advances to the public, utilizing various media, and targeting diverse communities. Such research might include developing AI-enhanced tools, such as algorithms for real-time sentiment analysis on social media, identifying misinformation trends, and customizable digital platforms for adaptive, audience-specific information dissemination. Interactive educational tools using VR/AR technologies to explain complex concepts and research into diverse media strategies for accurate information dissemination are also key. Exploring successful mechanisms---like those used in the pharma industry for advertising new products—and applying to biotech advances could be beneficial for bridging the gap between scientific complexity and public comprehension, thereby fostering informed decision-making and trust in biotechnological progress. We emphasize that this list is not comprehensive; we need you to help us think deeper within this subtheme!

As a member of the R&D community, you too are a CASA-Bio stakeholder, and providing your insight on R&D projects that undergird this sub-theme and lead to solutions is critical. Your ideas will matter! Your individual project ideas and those developed as part of the collaborative Town Hall process will be combined to produce an aggregate view. This view will help us understand not only the interests of the R&D community, but also what they are willing to do to advance the bioeconomy. Topics among the R&D project ideas we receive will help government, industry, and non-profit stakeholders see the potential of the US R&D community to address critical future needs and help define topics for future exploration through workshops and roadmapping.

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CASA-Bio is based upon work supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation under Contract No. 49100423P0058. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. National Science Foundation.
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