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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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FORPOL

From October 2022 to March 2023, we ran a forecasting tournament with a total of 54questions. Almost all of our forecasting questions were developed in cooperation with 16different public institutions and ministerial departments. Each institution or department definedits most useful forecasting topics, participated in a workshop to define specific questions withus, and was later provided with the results. This was intended as a proof of concept of onepossible 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 theywould any other question on Metaculus (median of 18 predictions per user). Throughout thetournament, we produced 16 reports detailing the rationales and forecasts, to be used by thecooperating institutions.A handful of our partners have already reported acting on the information/judgment presented inour reports. This has concerned, for example, the national foreclosure issue (some 6% of thetotal population have debts in arrears) where the debt relief process is being redesigned midststrong lobbying and insufficient personal capacities; or the probabilities of outlier scenarios forEuropean macroeconomic development, which was requested by the Slovak Ministry of Financeto help calibrate their existing judgements.It also seems useful to explore various approaches to grow the number of policymakers withpersonal experience & skills in forecasting. In our case, we found curiosity and willingness to tryforecasting even in unexpected institutional locations (i.e. the Czech R&I funding body). Thismakes us more confident that the “external forecasts” approach (as compared to buildinginternal prediction tournaments or focusing on advancing forecasting skills of public servants) isworth investigating further precisely because it allows us to detect and draw on this interestirrespective 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 worktowards similar goals. To that effect, the write-up also contains an Annex of “MethodologicalGuidelines,” where we outline in more explicit terms the questions and decisions that we foundwere 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 empha-sising 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 balanc-ing, 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? Con-versely, 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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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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STI for 2050

The project explores potential futures of STI directions in relation to ecosystem performance as interpreted by three perspectives of human-nature relations: protecting and restoring ecosystems, co-shaping socio-ecological systems, and caring within hybrid collectives.  Please find the final report here.  About the project  MISSION. The overarching ambition of this project is to identify and map future scientific and technological developments, which can radically improve ecosystem performance. Policy responses that could enable EU policies for STI to accelerate sustainability transitions worldwide are also explored. The main outcome is to provide reflections on the 2nd strategic plan of Horizon Europe (HE), in its broad direction to support the Sustainable Development Goals.  VISION. S&T&I FOR 2050 is driven by the deliberation for STI efforts to place ecosystem performance on par with human performance. This broadens the focus of STI to encompass multiple conceptualisations of human-nature relations and to contribute to sustainability transitions.  STRATEGY. To identify directions of STI for ecosystem performance, the foresight project maps STI trends, conducts a Delphi study, and exemplifies six case studies along the lines of three perspectives on ecosystem performance: protecting and restoring ecosystems, co-shaping socio-ecological systems, and caring within hybrid collectives.  THE TEAM. The project team is composed by:  Austrian Institute of Technology (lead)  Insight Foresight Institute (IFI) Institutul de Prospectiva  Fraunhofer ISI  ISINNOVA  Visionary Analytics  The project “S&T&I FOR 2050. Science, Technology and Innovation for Ecosystem Performance – Accelerating Sustainability Transitions” is conducted on behalf of the European Commission. 
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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 BARRIERSMassive 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

This deep dive is part of the Foresight towards the 2nd Strategic Plan of Horizon Europe project. Mass media from around the world is constantly heralding new scientific and technological breakthroughs that bring upon the promise of healthier, longer, more fulfilling lives: partially restoring the sight of blind people with the aid of artificial retinas, restoring partial movement of previously non-responsive limbs by linking a paralyzed person’s brain to a computer chip, artificial bones, skin, blood, along with more controversial endeavours: editing the human genome through gene-splitting techniques, stem cells primed to promote regeneration, cryogenics and many, many others. The transhumanist movement regards breakthroughs like these as springboards not only to healing people but to changing and improving humanity. Thanks to scientific developments in converging technologies such as biotechnology, neurotechnology, information technology and nanotechnology, humanity may be on the cusp of an enhancement revolution. The transhumanist movement considers this revolution - allowing people to control and fundamentally change their bodies and minds towards ‘humanity plus’ - as both inevitable and desirable. Some proponents of the movement go even further into envisioning a (more future distant) stage of civilization freed from bodily and even earthly constraints – a posthumanism marked by, for e.g., linking human intelligence to the AI, whole brain emulation (‘mind uploading’), or a superintelligence (technological singularity). The transhumanist debate is expansive both in regard to the enhancements and the values and beliefs, ethics and the role of the government. An open-minded exploration of this topic would shy away from taking sides, a priori, with either the transhumanist movement (who speak of ‘transcendence’) or the conservative positions (who speak of ‘transgressions’), but explore the spectrum of positions with generosity and curiosity.  Moreover, such exploration should pierce through (and go beyond) the rhetorical strategies of either movement, and try to investigate with an open, critical mind, the substantive points of the debate. About this topic The deep dive on transhumanist revolutions opens an investigation of the human condition, around questions such as the ones listed below. In brief, C. Wright Mills’ questions will be asked of the enhanced: ‘‘In what ways are they selected and formed, liberated and repressed, made sensitive and blunted?’’ Should the right to control one’s body include the right to augment one’s body? What would more radical human-tech ensembles mean for our lived experience? (1) If the ‘trans’ revolutions run their course towards ‘humanity-plus’, will we still be human &humane? How will various enhancements (e.g. bodily or cognitive) affect the embodied selves - our lived bodies - and their engagement with the world? (2) Will we still define ourselves (including) through our limitations and overcoming adversity or we will lose that one constituting factor? Is transhumanism about progressing or blunting the self? (3) To what extent it will affect our ability for inwardness if all the mending of the self is done outwardly (i.e. transforming humans to better fit the external world)? Would it be possible to also enhance morality, kindness, compassion, and other cardinal virtues or ‘pro-social’ feelings? Can a child have true autonomy if parents genetically design his or her capacities and proclivities? The debate also explores new social orders, issues of justice or (in)equity, political and economic power: Will society’s repugnance/resistance to controversial/’suspect’ technologies water down, just as it did in the past with other technologies (e.g., oral contraceptives, IVF)? (4) Who decides what is a “limitation” and what is an “enhancement”? Will enhancements truly be optional? Will enhancements be afforded only by the rich, or some will progressively be considered essential services to be provided by the state in the spirit of social welfare? (negative vs. positive rights). Who is responsible for the enhancements, e.g. who guarantees the “spare parts” or is liable for damages?  (5) What kind of regulation is needed, e.g., limiting the enhancement or surveillance? How can public health systems be redesigned/reconfigured to deliver in this context? Could enhancements displace the sense of common humanity that has undergirded the democratic social contract for centuries? If liberal democracies go down the transhumanist path, will this mean diminishing free will and increased power of exploitation on the part of the government or, on the contrary, regulating, controlling, or banning enhancement technologies amount to a loss of personal autonomy and increased state power? References (1) Sociotechnical ensembles (See Bijker and Pinch, 1984) posit that technologies are social through and through (their design and implementation are affected by social, cultural, economic and political context), just as society is technological through and through (technological artifacts are crucial to social order). Socio-technical ensembles constitute themselves through this interaction. See also Bijker, 1995, Latour on actor-network approach, 1992, Ihde on the role of tech in the interrelation of human beings and world when technological artifacts are involved, 1990. (2) See for e.g. the phenomenology of perception, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, where the body is central to our understanding of our relationships with others (through a space of ‘intercorporeality’) and to the wider ecological context we’re immersed within. (3) Even services now deemed banal, like google, that allows us to access any information at any time, have affected our memory, inclination towards mental effort; or google maps perfectly orienting us while robbing our sense of orientation. (4) Note that IVF’s role extended, from a medical procedure for otherwise infertile couples, to identifying embryos free of devastating genetic diseases. But it also extended to sex selection (5) See Fred Hirsch, 1977 on ‘positional goods’ – goods whose value to those who have them depends on others not having them.
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Smart Futures Tunisia – Exploring the digital skills of tomorrow (a foresight journey into the year 2035)

Smart Futures Tunisia aims to explore what Tunisia and its digital economy could and should look like in 2035. For this purpose, normative future scenarios were created from which inspiring future job profiles could be derived. In a final step, recommendations identify options for action through which the envisioned future can be approximated.The results are based on a three-stage methodology approach. First, key thematic areas were outlined through baseline research and expert interviews. Second, a foresight workshop was conducted to create a room to elaborate on different future scenarios and job profiles while also developing a digital skills map and initially discuss recommendations. Third, the results were refined through expert validation loops and expert interviews.The future scenarios were created to explore what urban areas, smaller cities and rural areas might look like in 2035. A future is drawn in which Tunisia is characterized by smart and self-powered buildings, increasing e-mobility, and public services delivered digitally. Apart from that, digital progress offers the opportunity to provide more equitable education, to conduct various types of commercial activities via e-commerce, and to improve access to health. Such a future in its variety of facets has been visually depicted in the graphic above.Furthermore, future job profiles are derived on this basis. In a desirable Tunisian development, these will be found primarily in the areas of food production, fintech, e-commerce, health tech, mobility, ed-, gov-, and green tech. Specific job profiles range from farm drone operators, who operate and maintain drones that monitor, measure and analyze crop growth and health, to cybersecurity experts, who protect government data from digital attacks. To be prepared for the changing profiles, digital competencies need to be developed, which can be categorized into the following four pillars: digital literacy and data literacy, technology-specific skills, digital product literacy, and digital transformation literacy.After developing future scenarios and outlining future job profiles, recommendations were finally drawn up that will enable Tunisia to proactively strive for the future outlined. General recommendations manifest themselves, for example, in the promotion of a "digital culture" that includes all strata of the population in order to make appropriate use of the potential of digitization. A specific example of a topic area recommendation is to strive for leadership in green tech solutions. Here, it is recommended to promote green tech culture, for example by including environmental sustainability and green tech solutions in education and public campaigns. In addition to content recommendations, Foresight Journey recommendations aim to improve and deepen the methodological applications of foresight for potential future ventures in this thematic field.Smart Futures Tunisia is part of the Special Initiative “Decent Work for a Just Transition” Invest for Jobs of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and implemented by the Digital Transformation Programme Tunisia of the Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. Invest for Jobs aims to team up with companies to create good jobs in eight African partner countries and to improve local working conditions.
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Futures of innovation and IP regulation

Innovation is changing in several dimensions. First, the initially closed innovation processes are complemented by various forms of open innovation. Second, consequently, innovation is not only performed by companies, but other actors, like users or non-governmental organisations get involved. Third, the dominance of product innovation based on hardware components is not only complemented but also partly substituted by digital components including software. Finally, the initially envisaged impact of innovation on firms and countries; economic success has been significantly widened in its contribution to sustainable development. Consequently, the existing IP regime is challenged by both its processes and its products, the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). We explore how these changes in several dimensions of innovation might influence the IP regimes, its processes, and products, including their implementation and impacts in the future. 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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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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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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