In the face of perceived public concerns about technological innovations, leading national and international bodies increasingly argue that there must be ‘dialogue' between policy makers, scientific researchers, civil society organizations and members of the public, to shape the pathways of technology development in a way that meets societal needs and gains public trust. This is not new, of course, and such concerns go back at least to the debates over the development of nuclear technologies and campaigns for social responsibility in science. Major funding bodies in the UK, Europe and elsewhere are now addressing this issue by insisting on Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) in the development of emerging technology. Biotechnologies such as synthetic biology and neurotechnologies have become a particular focus of RRI, partly because of the belief that these are risky technologies involving tinkering with the very building blocks of life, and perhaps even with human nature. With my fellow researchers, I have been involved in trying to develop Responsible Research and Innovation in these technologies for several years.