In June 2008, four NGOs – ETC Group from Canada, Bede (Biodiversité – échange et diffusion d’expériences) and Fondation Sciences Citoyennes from France and the What Next ? Institute from Sweden invited international NGOs to participate to a common strategic meeting on emerging technologies – BANG.
We had chosen BANG as our title in order to embody two interrelated images. Originally, the term BANG captured the technological convergence of Bits (information technology), Atoms (nanotechnology), Neurons (neurosciences), and Genes (synthetic biology/biotechnology) – a concept becoming entrenched in the science policies of most major governments. However, BANG also represents the ever-greater convergence of big governments and big corporations as they impose technological convergence as the solution to global social and environmental problems.
These combined technological and institutional convergences are not inevitable or predetermined, nor do technologies alone determine our future. However, major threats and challenges are coming to us all in the decades ahead – unless we manage to change the course significantly through different actions. The meeting that we co-organised in Montpellier in November 2008 gave a possibility to consider both BANG scenarios and creatively explore a whole range of strategic civil society responses.
The meeting, which took place in NOvember 2008 in the South of France, brought together about 40 individuals from diverse regions and experiences. As new converging technologies are likely to affect and even transform many areas of society, we saw a great need to bring together representatives from a broad set of social movements and civil society organisations, ranging from environment, development, science and democracy, agriculture/farming, globalisation, and technology to health, peace, women, disability and indigenous rights.
The BANG initiative arised from discussions launched by ETC Group and the What Next? Institute, and shared with other NGOs, notably Fondation Sciences Citoyennes and BEDE, the latter being a Montpellier based NGO that agreed to manage local logistical arrangements for this gathering.