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Some Futures of Technology

Some Futures of Technology

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Technological hypes are dynamic. Yesterday, the technological future was blockchain, today it's ChatGPT - and tomorrow? Here, we collect a wide range of technologies at different stages of the hype cycle and openly discuss their threats and opportunities.

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RESCHAPE - Reshaping Supply Chains for a positive social impact

As a result of the recent pandemic, global value chains have completely transformed. This has raised concerns over the ensuing social, economic and environmental trends and related impact on the way supply chains are organised. In this context, the EU-funded ReSChape project will analyse social, economic and environmental changes and disruptions, including the COVID-19 pandemic, and evaluate their impact on supply chains.New supply chain models will be proposed, aiming towards a more streamlined supply chain process to assure humans (workers, consumers and in general citizens) to be at the center of the business also thanks to new digital technologies. It will be studied how to assure a positive social impact and innovative policy scenarios will be developed with recommendations to support the future supply chains.
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FORPOL

From October 2022 to March 2023, we ran a forecasting tournament with a total of 54 questions. Almost all of our forecasting questions were developed in cooperation with 16 different public institutions and ministerial departments. Each institution or department defined its most useful forecasting topics, participated in a workshop to define specific questions with us, and was later provided with the results. This was intended as a proof of concept of one possible approach to incorporating forecasting in public decision-making. Once defined, our forecasting questions were then posted on a private Metaculus sub-domain (in Czech), where an average of 72 forecasters had the opportunity to address them as they would any other question on Metaculus (median of 18 predictions per user). Throughout the tournament, we produced 16 reports detailing the rationales and forecasts, to be used by the cooperating institutions. A handful of our partners have already reported acting on the information/judgment presented in our reports. This has concerned, for example, the national foreclosure issue (some 6% of the total population have debts in arrears) where the debt relief process is being redesigned midst strong lobbying and insufficient personal capacities; or the probabilities of outlier scenarios for European macroeconomic development, which was requested by the Slovak Ministry of Finance to help calibrate their existing judgements. It also seems useful to explore various approaches to grow the number of policymakers with personal experience & skills in forecasting. In our case, we found curiosity and willingness to try forecasting even in unexpected institutional locations (i.e. the Czech R&I funding body). This makes us more confident that the “external forecasts” approach (as compared to building internal prediction tournaments or focusing on advancing forecasting skills of public servants) is worth investigating further precisely because it allows us to detect and draw on this interest irrespective of institutional and seniority distinctions and resource constraints. While we hope that any readers with an interest in forecasting may find our experience useful, we expect that both this and any future projects of ours make it easier for other teams to work towards similar goals. To that effect, the write-up also contains an Annex of “Methodological Guidelines,” where we outline in more explicit terms the questions and decisions that we found were important to tackle when running the project, and what they may entail.
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Futures of Big Tech

Large R&D-based companies (Big Tech) have risen as major institutions driving technology, defining networks, shaping markets and influencing the ways we live. These companies are heavily concen-trated in some parts of the world, most of them within the West Coast of the United States, with a few emerging challengers in Mainland China, Taiwan and elsewhere. Other continents, including Europe, participate marginally in the development of the knowledge-bases which, apparently, may well come to dominate the future. Societies have come to rely on Big Tech from how we do business to how we consume and connect with others. And decision-makers, regulators and stakeholders grapple with breakthrough innovations, enhanced connectivity, lopsided competition and a number of ethical and political implications for how societies govern themselves. Organised societies face difficult choices. Should Big Tech be let free to carry on unimpeded? Should government break them up or try to tame them by imposing detailed standards of conduct? Should national and supra-national authorities aim at giving rise to new and alternative undertakings able to develop at far-reaching scale and scope? Or should policy actors give priority to an economic fabric full of smaller-sized enterprises that are alive and adaptive at the local level?  As with many times in the past, the configuration of the present seems stiff and self-reinforcing. But a foresight perspective invites an awareness of the possibility of disruptions or genuine novelty in things to come. It is uncertain if current trends will be sustained over time or how they will be accommodated. Probing into the unknown can be inspiring and increase panoramic awareness. It also sets a base for being pro-active about destiny. Thus, studying the future(s) is a deliberation to be already being on the move. That is a productive, non-neutral and liberating attitude. A chance for aligning the possible with the desirable. This policy brief addresses the challenge of anticipating of what “Big Tech” will imply for the future of Europe. In our deep dive we project towards 2040 and explore the implications to Europe emphasising research and innovation policy.  The scenario work, that comprises the bulk of this report, frames debates about industrial change and international political economy with the overarching vector of high-tech activities and offers a balancing, hopefully also piercing, view. We derive policy options for each scenario but also draw cross-cut-ting implications. Could tech-driven large companies be instruments for the European Union (EU) to respond effectively to the challenges of the future economy? Is this a viable, feasible option? Conversely, have foreign-owned Big Tech already won and will the EU be hostage to the tentacles of such sprawling giants? Can it adapt through bottom-up economic action? For all this, it was about time to tackle these pressing issues. The project is one of eight foresight deep dives of the project 'European R&I foresight and public engagement for Horizon Europe' carried out by the Foresight on Demand consortium.
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GovTech Connect

Welcome to the GovTech Connect Community! The GovTech Connect Community is a space where everyone can share their knowledge and experience to grow together. This Collection conveys the results of GovTech Connect’s studies, events and news, along with the interesting content from other communities related to GovTech in Europe. GovTech Connect will spread the word and share content  about:  GovTech market trends in Europe European GovTech initiatives Design thinking methodology and citizen engagement for GovTech solutions development. As part of these activities, GovTech Connect will see the launch of four European Boot camps to best prepare GovTech start-ups for collaboration with the public sector, as well as co-creative solution design with citizens. Webinars, workshops and other events will be occasions for networking and knowledge sharing. The activities will be carried out by a consortium led by Intellera Consulting, with partners PUBLIC, Lisbon Council and Politecnico di Milano.
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Supported by The European Commission

S+T+Arts

Science, technology and arts (STARTS for short) limn a nexus at which insightful observers have identified extraordinarily high potential for innovation.
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Supported by The European Commission

Rapid Exploration: General AI

This rapid exploration is part of the Foresight towards the 2nd Strategic Plan of Horizon Europe project. How far can we get with Artificial Intelligence (AI) - here, meant as “machine learning”? Computers and supercomputers are extremely good at sequential calculations, calculating correlations and recognising patterns (machine learning, big data) where human capabilities fail. Nonetheless, complex decisions, emotional context and moral aspects are still out of scope for artificial intelligence. There are promises of next-generation, generalised AI (Artificial General Intelligence, AGI), opening up new possibilities for autonomous self-learning systems to be realised. What is the limit of control, and where is the limit of autonomy for these next-generation AI machines? What are the stakes and benefits for society, humanity and the world when including autonomous machines in daily lives (e.g. level 5 self-driving vehicles)? How can the development / AI be governed, and where is the limit if AI is autonomous? How can autonomous machines be trusted to act morally and how do they decide in ethical aspects? DRIVERS AND BARRIERS Massive computing and quantum computers are pushing forward machine learning and the development of general artificial intelligence. In addition, progress is made in systems containing sensors, actuators, and information processing. AI has proven to be useful in many practical applications, but it remains far from “understanding” or consciousness. Huge interest in AI comes from industry, economy, and military as “intelligent” robots could do work, assist humans, and even fight a war without shedding blood. Of course, this form of high tech promises high revenues for companies, and the supranational companies have the resources to finance the advances privately.Nonetheless, there are considerable concerns in society as well. One counter trend could be the “back to nature and frugality” movement, which might lead to the social divide being connected to the urban-rural nexus and the topic of “rising social confrontation”. A central issue is safeguarding security, safety and morality when the driver is the (human) competition? There is already ethical and philosophical discourse: what would be the right value-setting for artificial intelligence? Assuming that there is such a thing as general natural intelligence, what are the relationships between intelligence, morality and wisdom? Do we want general intelligence or general wisdom?What would happen when AI started training itself? This poses the question of control of AI. FUTURES What if AI makes our lives much easier and people are used to the applications? What if AI is used for dull tasks, and human intelligence focuses on creativity? What if mobility is exclusively run by autonomous machines/vehicles? What if AI changed the way we understood “intelligence”? What if AI changed the way we organise schools/ education? What if AI changes how we think about knowledge and makes us all computer scientists? What if general AI challenges human decisions? What if AI decides? What if AI was used in (most) decision-making processes? What if AI goes further than we want? What if general AI decides that human life can be sacrificed in certain situations for the sake of the community or other species?
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Deep Dive: Climate & Geo-Engineering

This deep dive is part of the Foresight towards the 2nd Strategic Plan of Horizon Europe project. Climate change impacts are one of the main threats to human society and natural ecosystems. Even though natural dynamics also have a substantial effect on climate, there is no doubt that current alterations of climate with the correlated impacts are manmade. Alongside continuing efforts to reduce emissions and adapt to climate change, there may be possibilities to geoengineer climate systems to reduce or mask the impacts of climate change. There are also strong arguments for large-scale changes in social practices for adapting to and mitigating climate change. The big challenge comes with the necessary scale of interventions as those changes need to be large-scale and global, putting new challenges to all levels of governance from local to global. About this topic Many present drivers seem to indicate a gloomy future for the climate. The current individualistic mindsets drive overconsumption and overproduction. The offsetting of carbon emissions is sometimes used to compensate for dirty activities. Intense competition for natural resources is not safeguarding their sustainability. Bio-holistic worldviews confront anthropocentric views, but climate delay has emerged as the new denial and the lack of courage to address climate supremacists, i.e. the global wealthy, shows little change of direction. According to a 2020 report from Oxfam and the Stockholm Environment Institute, the wealthiest top 1% were responsible for 15% of global emissions, nearly twice as much as the world’s poorest 50%, who were responsible for just 7%. Overly optimistic beliefs in tech or social transformation to solve it prevail, and there is a wide reluctance to consider broad system change. ​ There are also drivers towards desired futures. Improved understanding of climate and global change and the capacity and knowledge to purposefully shape nature and society provide better means to address climate change. Climate anxiety and perception of government inaction have triggered, for instance, the ‘Fridays for future’ movement, which contributes to the emergence of global conscience on the climate and biodiversity crisis and the need for justice. New understandings of human purpose and fairness also encourage the development of a wider range of responses like de-desertification, seaweed permaculture, ocean fertilization, carbon capture and storage, and solar radiation management. We may learn to protect the global commons, including indigenous cultures and atmospheric commons. ​ Economic growth in societies based on individual material gain, here-and-now-thinking, short political cycles, and lack of broad political agreement on alternative paths seem to keep us on the path to the climate crisis. Furthermore, exacerbated social inequalities may lead many to have no willingness or ability to participate in transitions. While we are overconfident with systems’ design, we underestimate natural forces and ecosystems. Emerging options for large-scale ‘geoengineering’ interventions in the climate system promise new opportunities and new risks, including novel geopolitical tensions. There are diverse perceptions on geoengineering and possible social change towards potential acceptance or societal rejection. The planet lacks a fair and appropriate governance structure providing a framework on who might be entitled to carry out geoengineering projects in the name of the planet and what their responsibility is. There is no sufficient dialogue on what it means to be a responsible company, researcher, research organisation, or policy-maker in this context.
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Deep Dive: Transhumanist Revolutions

The twelve scenarios in this deep dive are informed by transhumanism, portraying futures in which the human condition – our bodies, functions, and lives – and the features of societies are fundamentally transformed by technology. Even though scenarios are built along the lines of particular scientific and/or technological advancements, the discussion spreads over sociotechnical ensembles and the re-conceptualization of the relationship between technology and society by 2040. The work leading to this report started with a horizon scanning exercise to identify a series of technological innovations and scientific breakthroughs that may be considered key factors towards re-engineering human nature. In parallel, the authors explored diverse narratives regarding the human condition and significance in the world, dreams and fears embodied in the so-called collective imaginary, echoing through myths and fantasies to literature, cinematography and the wider culture. At the intersection of these explorations, twelve topics were selected and further expanded into scenarios. They are not intended to cover the full spectrum of themes regarding human enhancement, but present a relevant ‘sample’ of potential future trajectories. We propose these narratives as exploratory scenarios, describing futures where both positive and negative consequences are palpable. They are not normative, outlininga vision of the future deemed desirable. We invite readers to regard them as devices for imagining the future and debating the future. They aim to nurture a reflection on the dynamics of change, future opportunities and potential threats, and in doing so they contribute to future preparedness. Three types of scenarios were developed: The first type describe futures where scientific and technological advancements enhance embodied experiences: Sensory augmentation:  extending human senses beyond the natural limits and adding sensorial modalities which are not native to humans. Sensory and brain stimulation, psychedelic microdosing: inducing altered states of consciousness, for healing purposes or for fostering new perspectives on being human. Molecular therapies for delaying aging; and new artificial reproductive technologies allowing people to be fertile until much older age. The second type explore futures where human capabilities are extended by embodying non-biological means: a significant share of elderly people using exoskeletons for prolonging active life, for maintaining their mobility or as a form of assisted living;  brain-computer interfaces leveraged in semi-automatized work environments, to improve learning outcomes, and to control smart devices;  Brain to brain communication supporting cognitive and emotion sharing, leading to the creation of ‘hive minds’ covering multiple aspects of life. The third type focus on the simulation and replication of the human body and mind: Digital body twins allowing alert signals for disease prevention and the simulation of the short- and long-term effects of a person’s behavior on their health and body; Digital twins of the brain allowing testing hypotheses in cognitive science, in mental health studies, responses to different types of treatments;  Digital immersive worlds – gaming/ fantasy worlds or ‘mirror worlds’ that are replicating real-life environments – hosting interactions among people and automated entities;  Digital replicas of the deceased changing the socio-political understanding of grief; and Artificial agents with complex underlying computational procedures (including e.g. self-reflection, development of value system, affective computing) and sophisticated interfaces calling for new theoretical frameworks of consciousness. *** The twelve scenarios presented in the paper are part of a foresight project aimed at helping prepare the 2nd Strategic Plan 2024-2027 of the Horizon Europe Framework Programme for Research & Innovation. The project was conducted by Foresight on Demand Consortium on behalf of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Research and Innovation (DG RTD).
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4Growth project - Understanding the Market to Forecast Future Growth

4Growth will showcase the uptake of digital technologies and data through the “4Growth Visualisation Platform” that will combine powerful storytelling with advanced visualisations of the market. This 3-year Horizon Europe project, funded by the European Commission, brings together 13 partners with the aim of understanding where, how and to what extent digital technologies and data are being adopted within the agricultural and forestry sectors. The project started in January 2024 and will end in December 2026. Consortium members: 2 Wageningen University & Research, Netherlands (Coordinator) 2 EVENFLOW, Belgium (Technical Managers) 3 GEOPONIKO PANEPISTIMION ATHINON, Greece 4 FOODSCALE HUB GREECE, Greece 5 LE EUROPE LIMITED, Ireland 6 FUTURE IMPACTS, Germany 7 SIMBIOTICA SL, Spain 8 EV ILVO: EIGEN VERMOGEN VAN HET INSTITUUT VOOR LANDBOUW- EN VISSERIJONDERZOEK, Belgium 9 INSTITUTO NAVARRO DE TECNOLOGIAS E INFRAESTRUCTURAS AGROALIMENTRIAS, Spain 10 CENTRE TECHNIQUE INTERPROFESSIONNEL DES FRUITS ET LEGUMES, France 11 TEKNOLOGIAN TUTKIMUSKESKUS VTT OY, Finland 12 AgriFood Lithuania DIH, Lithuania 13 ARISTOTELIO PANEPISTIMIO THESSALONIKIS, Greece
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Long-Term Implications of the Digital Transition for Farmers and Rural Communities

Project Successfully managing the green and digital transitions is a crucial factor that could increase the resilience and strategic autonomy of the EU and shape its future. Yet the digitalisation of agriculture and rural areas raises vital questions about winners and losers, costs, benefits, and long-term implications. The foresight project coordinated by EU Policy Lab together with the European Commission’s Department for Agriculture and Rural Development aimed to explore the interplay between digital transition, policies and the resilience of the agricultural sector and rural areas, against the backdrop of potential disruptive and transformative changes. The digital transition will occur in a rapidly changing world faced with climate change, environmental degradation, geopolitical instability, shifting supply networks, and evolving consumer demand. This study's foresight scenarios suggest that digitalisation can catalyse transformation, aiding in coping with shocks, knowledge acquisition, community building, and system-related thinking. But at the same time, it can also reinforce inequalities and introduce rigidities. Therefore, digitalisation support should aim to create sustainable food systems and robust, connected, and prosperous rural areas and communities. A sound digital transition strategy should promote agricultural and rural resilience, green transition, digital citizenship for farmers and communities, and overall well-being. Digitalisation should uphold values like trust, equality, power, sovereignty, and care. Its execution should prioritise collaboration, accessibility, people-centric design, and circularity. Key enablers for a successful digital transition include capacity building for digital skills, fostering a robust digital ecosystem, investing in infrastructure and connectivity, and securing sufficient funding. Read the blog post to learn more about the project.Science for Policy Report Based on a participatory foresight process, the Digital transitio: Long-term implications for EU farmers and rural communitis -report presents the outcomes of this exploration, proposing building blocks for an effective EU digital transition strategy for agriculture and rural areas supported by a hands-on policymaker’s toolkit. Toolkit The toolkit can help decision makers engage in strategic conversations about the implications of digital transition for farmers and rural communities. The tookit includes questions and activities to inform a digital strategy for agriculture and rural areas.The toolkit can help to:Uncover key issues to reflect on when building a digitalisation vision and strategy.Engage stakeholders to develop or improve the existing digital strategy.Increase your anticipatory capacity and future-proof your digital transition strategy.Learn more and download the toolkit.

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Is Hydrogen that good for the Climate?

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Sustainable future (Sustainable future)
Sustainable future (Sustainable future)
Sustainable future (Sustainable future)

Anonymous

In 2040, Europe thrives as a model of sustainability. Clean energy powers our lives, urban green spaces abound, and circular economy practices eliminate waste. Environmental education is paramount, fostering a society dedicated to preserving Europe's natural beauty while embracing progress

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Peacre and secure (Peaceful and secure)
Peacre and secure (Peaceful and secure)
Peacre and secure (Peaceful and secure)

Anonymous

I would like to see a future where all people will feel happy and financially secure. There will be no criminality, no wars, no violence.

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Sustainable (Sustainable)
Sustainable (Sustainable)
Sustainable (Sustainable)

Anonymous

Heath - Environmental, Physical, Mental.

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The decade which Cancer is a simpe, treatable disease
The decade which Cancer is a simpe, treatable disease
The decade which Cancer is a simpe, treatable disease

Anonymous

Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide. Many cancers can be cured but most of them are non curable. By 2040, AI technology with the supervision of humans will be able to detect and treat with 100% sucess, the cancer patient

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Futures of Big Tech

Sandro Mendonça

Big Tech is rewiring the world. These very large private companies are leaders in research and development (R&D) and now wield unprecedented and unparalleled influence in the economy and beyhond. In this redefined world, Europe faces a number of agenda-setting questions. This policy brief aims to anticipate the implications of ‘Big Tech’ for Europe’s future by 2040.

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From Sewing Machines to Fashion NFTs: Time Traveling through IPR in Creative Industries

Giovanna Guiffrè & Valentina Malcotti

CREATIVE IPR traces the history of intellectual property rights in Europe to investigate how past battles and future challenges in IPR management for creative industries impact creators, businesses and consumers

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Copyright Harmony to Unite in Diversity

Giovanna Guiffrè & Valentina Malcotti

ReCreating Europe re-thinks copyright codes and the management of creativity in the digital era by looking at the interplay between copyright, access to culture, and fair representation of creators and users.

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Prompting the Future of IP Regulation & Innovation Management

Giovanna Guiffrè & Valentina Malcotti

Anselm Kamperman Sanders and Anke Moerland, Professors of Intellectual Property Law at Maastricht University, share their ‘expert-generated’ responses to prompts concerning the outlook of intellectual property regulation. The two coordinators of the Horizon 2020 European IP Institutes Network Innovation Society project (EIPIN-Innovation Society), completed in 2021, point to global trends and highlight how emerging challenges for IP regulation and innovation management are already on the table.

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