Developing a critique of technoscientific change
The news that the CSIRO had unwittingly lent its name to the latest batch of Blackmores weightloss pills – pills that had no demonstrable effect or scientific validation – barely registers as a surprise in a world where we have become used to the distortion of scientific ideals by market imperatives. The aggressive push to commercialise the CSIRO under the direction of Larry Marshall – licensed to restructure the institution under the previous prime minister’s ‘innovation’ policy – is symptomatic of larger transformations in contemporary science and the institutions that house it. Outside the CSIRO, universities declare their commercial priorities without a trace of self-consciousness, such is the extent to which they have changed in their mission. The statement from the incoming vice chancellor at the University of Melbourne, Duncan Maskell, that ‘universities need to engage with the corporate world and research is the engine of discovery, without which universities have nothing to commercialise’ now passes as unremarkable. That scientific research is valued overtly in market terms is one indication of its incorporation into something called technoscience.
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