Posts Tagged ‘horizon scanning’

EFP Brief No. 251: VERA – Forward Visions on the European Research Area

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

The VERA project provides relevant strategic intelligence for the future governance and priority-setting of the research, technology, development and innovation (RTDI) system in the EU and for better adapting science, technology and inno-vation policy to the shifting global environment and upcoming socio-economic challenges. For this purpose VERA carries out an in-depth stocktaking of RTDI related forward looking activities in Europe and internationally and a thorough review of trends and drivers of long-term change of European RTDI governance. On the base of these insights VERA develops scenarios on the evolution of the European Research Area, assesses the critical issues for the ERA’s future capabilities emerging from these scenarios, explores subsequent strategic options and ultimately generates a set of policy recommendations for responsive and future oriented multi-level, multi-domain RTDI policy strategies. As VERA will run until 2014 we will present some intermediary results of the first two work packages in this Brief.

Changes and Tensions within ERA

Recently, ERA has undergone many relevant changes from inside. First of all, research and development became a domain of shared competence between the member states and the EU as a result of the new Lisbon Treaty in 2009. The subsequent strategic processes, such as the Lund Declaration, the Ljubljana Process, the Europe2020 Strategy and the Europe 2020 Flagship Initiative Innovation Union, have provided a solid mandate for a strong and open European Research Area that is highly responsive to societal challenges and provides excellent research and innovation activities in open exchange with the international RTI landscape.

However, in order to realise this ambitious agenda, the share of integrated research expenditure needs to be significantly increased. Furthermore, new coordination mechanisms are required to allow for flexible identification of ERA priorities, mobilisation of the critical mass of funding, and governance of its implementation.

In the last few years, a number of integrative instruments have been developed and implemented, such as:

  • Knowledge and innovation communities (KICs) selected within the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT)
  • ERA Net and ERA-Net Plus allowing for joint funding of EU and member states
  • Joint technology initiatives (JTIs article 187) developed through the European technology platforms (ETPs)
  • Joint programming in research (JPIs)
  • Public private partnerships (PPP)
  • Joint research programmes (article 185)
  • European research alliances
  • European innovation partnerships

Thus a number of opportunities and experiences for more integration and pre-allocating significant chunks of EU funding to joint priorities do exist. At the same time, there are many tensions associated with the implementation of these strategies.

A key challenge and opportunity for ERA development is its relation to and integration with the wider world. The production and composition of knowledge have become globalised. While science always has been international, the scope of actors and the need for coordination and cooperation across the globe has changed dramatically in the face of global challenges. At the same time, there is an increasing specialisation of knowledge production and exploitation. Global division of labour and connecting the global centres of excellence that have emerged is a key requirement of the future. In addition, many of the problems European societies face are either the same as for other societies (obesity, demographic change) or transnational in nature (climate change, pollution, security) while the EU is just one among many international players. The overarching challenge of decoupling economic growth from the depletion of the ecosphere and preserving natural capital demands an unprecedented alignment of efforts on a global scale.

There are a number of changes in the way research and innovation is being embedded in the societal context. Changing values and lifestyles are giving rise to new societal expectations of research and innovation. Changing economic and institutional contexts introduce new rationales into knowledge production. Established boundaries, such as basic and applied research or users and producers of innovation and knowledge, are blurring. New actors such as NGOs, citizens and user groups are increasingly playing relevant roles in the realm of research and innovation.

The need for research and innovation to address the grand challenges in realms such as health, food, security and sustainability is not only increasingly advocated but also poses new kinds of challenges. Transformative socio-technical pathways rather than isolated key technologies need to be explored. Social innovation, service organisation and organisational innovation need to be aligned with breakthrough technological innovation. Experimental approaches are gaining relevance for successful innovation trajectories, in particular when transitions are at stake. These changes make it imperative to situate ERA in the global context.

Identifying the Grand Challenges of the Future

In order to generate custom-made strategic intelligence for the future of ERA, the starting point was, first, to identify Grand Challenges (GC) and, secondly, to do so in relation to research sectors that are relevant to the ERA. The GC were identified based on existing EU documents and discussion papers that had been published in the context of pertinent foresight and horizon scanning projects. These GC were classified into relevant research sectors, for instance health, energy, environment and civil society. This approach allowed a thematic clustering of topics, which then served as a basis for broadening the scanning of FLAs. Ten sectors and more than 760 GC in total from a stock of 71 sources were identified.

The stocktaking was designed so as to collect information that would help reach the objective of the work package, i.e. to answer questions such as,

  • What Grand Challenges in the fields of economy, environment, geopolitics, society and ethics, technology and health are the documents and projects under consideration concerned with?
  • Do these documents and projects represent the discourse on Grand Challenges in the European Union and in other parts of the world?
  • What conclusions can we draw from these documents concerning the future governance needs of the ERA? And what do they tell us about the future requirements of RTI governance?

Sixteen Grand Challenges

The VERA team managed to identify 16 Grand Challenges from the analysis and clustering of 760 individual issues from the inventory and interviews with individual STI experts:

  1. Uncertainty is arising from a multipolar world

Increasing polarisation and regionalisation are driving towards a multipolar world. Possible evolutions and implications of or even solutions for this multi-aspect and multi-level challenge are still hardly understood.

  1. Values and attitudes are changing globally

Attitudes and values are changing globally; societies and particularly policy need to respond to these changes.

  1. The traditional role of the state is challenged

A number of developments require new models of governance that go beyond the traditional model of the state.

  1. The world is becoming more interconnected and thus more vulnerable

The more the world becomes interconnected and interdependent, the more new forms of crime and security threats are interlinked and have far-reaching consequences at all levels of society.

  1. Health concerns of an aging society are rising

The ageing of populations has diverse implications for science, technology, economy and society that are proliferated in the context of new health risks and ineffective health systems.

  1. A risk of financial system failure is emerging

In the financial sector the risk of systemic failures is increasing.

  1. Current non-sustainable economic models come under scrutiny

A growing unease with the current model of economic growth calls for alternative approaches to societal progress at the macro level. At the same time, environmentally sustainable business models are required in all sectors of economic activity.

  1. Migration requires responses

The challenge of migration takes many forms as a consequence of other challenges such as climate change, food and water shortages, natural disasters, pandemics etc., each of which requires a specialised and coordinated response at various levels of governance.

  1. Education is struggling to cope with new demands

The education and training systems in Europe need to be modernised. A more specific demand defines the need for education systems capable of promoting sustainability, innovation and solidarity values, and new professions require highly skilled craftsmanship.

  1. The health situation in deprived regions is deteriorating

Impoverished regions around the world are struggling with acute and virulent health issues.

  1. Climate change is causing new diseases

New health problems are arising globally due to climate change.

  1. Providing basic resources for increasing global demands becomes difficult

Without ecologically, economically and politically sustainable solutions, scarcities of basic resources may lead to extensive and serious social and political problems in some areas of the globe.

  1. Material resources are becoming increasingly scarce

Demand for metals and minerals is growing dramatically, especially due to the fast growth of emerging economies and increasing strategic demand for minerals in industrialised economies.

  1. Our modes of energy supply and use are threatening the survival of humankind

Adopting sustainable forms of energy production and consumption is one of the key means for mitigating climate change.

  1. Transportation systems are coming under strain

Environmental and health impacts from emissions, mitigation of climate change, urbanisation, the need for traffic safety and security, and avoidance of traffic jams are among the drivers pushing towards the reinvention of mobility and full-scale transition of existing transportation systems.

  1. EU competitiveness is endangered

The fragmentation of Europe, poor education and skills as well as rising costs and declining labour force participation caused by demographic change may prevent effective exploitation of Europe’s research and innovation potential.

Facing the Grand Challenges to the Future of Europe Means Facing the Global Ones First

From the analysis of a broad range of sources on Grand Challenges, it becomes clear that we cannot take a European perspective only. Especially not when attempting to identify ways of dealing with the Grand Challenges, or at least some of them. The most pressing challenges are globally interconnected and require global action. Topics like Our modes of energy supply (14), Providing basic resources for increasing global demands (12) and The world becoming more interconnected (4) are the ones most frequently discussed. They also show the need to accept shared responsibility on a global scale, which implies that the EU countries cannot lay back and point to other countries to take action. On the contrary, from a European perspective, European countries are among the major contributors to the drivers of the Grand Challenges and among the major countries affected as well, although the impacts of the Grand Challenges are more widespread globally than the drivers are.

The sixteen clusters identified and discussed above also seem to be the ones that call for policy action most immediately and represent the cases where such action could make a substantial difference if planned and executed in a systemic way.

To face the Grand Challenges to the future of Europe, most of all we need to cope with the global ones. If we make a major contribution to the global ones, we will be better equipped to cope with the challenges that lie ahead for Europe.

What we as Europeans have to face is that our lifestyle and the underlying economic model must be considered the root of fundamental problems with devastating global consequences. Many studies and independent resources have pointed this out before. It is of course not only the European lifestyle but also that of all developed economies. At the same time, the global interconnectedness that seems to make this lifestyle transferable to emerging, lagging and, in the long term, even to undeveloped economies also makes societies vulnerable to shocks in many respects.

Facing the Grand Challenges means to introduce fundamental changes in many areas of our lives and activities, thereby affecting global liaisons as well. Even if radical changes are unrealistic, the changes required in tackling the Grand Challenges will be felt by every European citizen. Policy-makers are in a crucial role as these changes will not occur without fundamental and coordinated policy measures in almost every policy area.

Furthermore, it becomes clear that the scope of these Grand Challenges is in essence societal. We need to take this into account when we talk about policy action, for example in the area of research, technology and innovation policy – in the respective work packages of the VERA project and beyond. We especially need to consider what the impact of that societal scope is with regard to the systemic character of handling the Grand Challenges.

Text Analysis and Discussion with “ERA Thinkers”

The second set of tasks performed was to synthesise the existing insights on trends, drivers and key dimensions of change in European RTDI governance. A computer-assisted analysis helped to characterise the body of discourse on ERA in a systematic and quantitative manner. The analysis of text data on ERA was expected to allow interpretations and descriptions of the attitudes, structures, values and norms that currently dominate STI governance. In view of the large quantities of data in textual form, text analysis provided an important means of discovering obscured meanings and unveiling hidden relationships. The computer-assisted analysis took as a point of reference a pre-understanding of ERA constituencies gained through literature review. Following the digitisation of the entire corpus, linguistic analysis software was used for cleaning and formatting, unitising and indexing. The development of categories and dictionaries, as well meaningful associations, relied on qualitative analysis techniques.

Quantitative text-analysis software allowed to produce an aggregation of unit-level coding. Statistical and network analysis software was used to highlight frequencies, trends, comparisons, networks and maps of relevant factors influencing STI governance.

Subsequent interviews with ERA “thinkers” served to obtain additional types of information (i.e. narratives, accounts, fronts, stories and myths).

Relevant factors identified by means of discourse and interview analysis provided the basis for a so-called key-factor workshop with key stakeholders. The insights on potential key factors were synthesised into a background document.

Based on these insights, VERA developed scenarios on the evolution of the European Research Area. VERA’s uniqueness is grounded in the systematic knowledge base it creates, for example, by stocktaking exercises such as the one on Grand Challenges described above. They are publicly accessible and intended to be used widely. At the same time, the results of these exercises feed the scenario process, the subsequent assessment of the scenarios, and the exploration of strategic options. Another distinct feature of VERA is that it pays particular attention to the assessment and policy implications of the scenarios, which will help to make scenario results useful for policy-making and thinking about the future of ERA.

Authors: Susanne Giesecke         Susanne.Giesecke@ait.ac.at

Philine Warnke             Philine.Warnke@ait.ac.at

Effie Amanatidou           effie.amanatidou@mbs.ac.uk

Sponsors: European Commission, DG Research, Social Sciences and Humanities Programme
Type: Multiple issue brief
Organizer: Fraunhofer Gesellschaft – ISI, Karlsruhe Germany, Stephanie Daimer, Stephanie.Daimer@isi.fraunhofer.de
Duration: 2012-2014
Budget: € 1,940,000
Time Horizon: 2030
Date of Brief: Decemeber 2012

Download EFP Brief No 251_VERA

Sources and References

References

The Lund Declaration (incl. its addendum), July 2009; available for download at

http://www.vr.se/download/18.7dac901212646d84fd38000336/ Lund_Declaration.pdf

Links to further results of the VERA project at http://www.eravisions.eu

The inventory contains 726 individual Grand Challenges named by the 67 screened FLAs. It has been submitted in an independent report and can be downloaded at http://vera.dev.zsi.at/stocktaking/list

EFP Brief No. 248: Drivers, Trends and Grand Challenges in Security

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

This brief gives an overview of the recent trends, drivers and ‘grand challenges’ in the area of security as they were iden-tified in the mapping and analysis of the 2nd EFP Mapping Report on Security Futures (Amanatidou et al., 2012). These findings were compiled from 16 different forward-looking activities (FLA), representing four types of FLA, namely: fore-sight, impact assessment, horizon scanning and forecasting. The selected FLA offer an interesting and complementary mix of national views and European perspectives.

Key global and European Security Issues

The concept of security has changed fundamentally over the last 25 years. The end of the cold war accompanied by a shift in global power distribution, failing states due to corruption, crime and religious fanaticism, risk of climate change and the interconnectedness of global hotspots giving rise to cyber-crime make the range of security challenges we are facing today and in the near future.

However, there is no clear separation between drivers, trends and ‘grand challenges’. The analysis of the original sources is not of a generic type but focuses on the security perspective. Some issues are mentioned in more than one group (as both trend and challenge, for instance) while some clustering would also make sense. This is attempted in this brief.

Globalisation is a major driver of evolutions with significant implications for security. Globalisation is likely to raise the level of interdependence between states and individuals within the globalised economy. Resources, trade, capital and intellectual property rely on complex networks of physical and virtual infrastructure that are likely to be vulnerable to physical disruption or cyber-attacks by multiple actors. Consequently, increasing dependency on this infrastructure, and the global supply chains that underpin globalisation, will leave the global economy vulnerable to disruption (DCDC 2010).

One of the main trends mentioned in the security FLAs is the emergence of new centres of power and the consequent redistribution of global power (EU-GRASP, NIC 2008). Associated to this is the shift of power to Asia as a major trend. In particular, the world of 2030 will be diffusely multipolar and polycentric. Polycentrism will be accompanied by an economic power shift toward Asia where over half of the world’s population will be concentrated by 2030. China is projected to be the largest economic power, and India will continue to rise. Both countries will face major structural challenges, however. Brazil may become a successful example of sustainable development during the next two decades. Russia and Japan will lose the great power status they enjoyed in the twentieth century (ESPAS 2012).

A constellation of rising middle powers, including Indonesia, Turkey and South Africa, will become ever more prominent (NIC 2008). The international system that is likely to emerge as a result of all these shifts will probably mix balance-of-power politics and multilateralism, with states making issue-by-issue shifts and alliances. This will generate a higher level of unpredictability in international relations and make it harder to attain a broad consensus even on matters requiring urgent global action (ESPAS 2012). This shift of global power is likely to result in a period of instability in international relations, accompanied by the possibility of intense competition between major powers as there will be several states and institutions competing for regional and global influence, cooperating and competing within the international community (DCDC 2010).

The grand challenges addressed in the security FLAs are climate change, scarcities, global inequalities, changing demographics and migration.

Climate change has a central position in the analysis of trends and challenges. Temperature increases are likely to lead to significant environmental change that may, for example, include desertification in the Saharan margins and changes to rainfall distribution patterns within the monsoon belt of the Arabian Sea and South Asia. The frequency and intensity of extreme weather events will change, possibly with severe impact on low-lying coastal regions. Rapid glacial melt, particularly in the Himalayas, may exacerbate water management problems in China, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Disease carriers, such as malarial mosquitoes, are likely to spread into previously temperate zones (DCDC 2010).

Special reference is being made to the consequences of climate change affecting living standards and public safety by exacerbating water and food scarcity with environmental degradation expected to continue to provoke humanitarian disasters, including desertification and floods of increasing magnitude. The severest impact will be felt in China, South Asia and the Sahel where millions of people will be displaced; but no region of the world will be spared (ESPAS 2012).

Scarcity in energy, food and fresh water resources is also separately addressed in relation to the social unrest and conflicts they may cause. The frequency, scale and duration of humanitarian crises are likely to increase. Many states, including China and India, are likely to become more dependent on food imports to feed their large and increasingly affluent populations. A shift in agricultural patterns and the distribution of grain growing areas, coupled with the rise in animal and plant diseases, is likely to disrupt food production, resulting in increased migration. However, improvements and efficiencies in agricultural production are likely to meet much of the increased demand, given likely scientific advances that develop high-yield, disease resistant crop strains, combined with better land usage and improved irrigation. Humanitarian crises due to water scarcity and related food and health emergencies may become recurrent, particularly in some parts of Africa. Competition for resources is likely to exacerbate tensions and trigger conflicts. Energy crises will heighten the sense that the world is entering an ‘age of scarcity’, putting the prevailing model of development into question (ESPAS 2012).

Inequalities of opportunities is another grand challenge due to globalisation and increased access to more readily and cheaply available telecommunications. This type of inequality is likely to be a significant source of grievance, possibly resulting in an increased incidence of conflict. However, states that experience lower birth rates and increased longevity are likely to benefit from a growing workforce and a falling dependency ratio. The result is a ‘demographic dividend’, which can produce a virtuous cycle of growth (DCDC 2010).

Demographic trends are also mentioned among the grand challenges as possible causes of tensions. Demographic trends may fuel instability especially in the Middle East, Central Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. The developing world will account for most of the growth, remaining relatively youthful, in contrast to the developed world and China, which will experience little population growth and undergo significant increases in median age. In the West, however, ageing is likely to lead to policies to employ the ‘younger old’. This cultural shift may yield a second demographic dividend leading to a lower demand for migrant workers and decreasing the social welfare burden. (DCDC 2010) The populations of several youth-bulge states are projected to remain on rapid growth trajectories. Unless employment conditions change dramatically in parlous youth-bulge states, such as Afghanistan, Nigeria, Pakistan and Yemen, these countries will remain ripe for continued instability and state failure (NIC 2008).

Nevertheless, populations in many affluent societies are likely to decline, encouraging economic migration from less wealthy regions. Environmental pressures, economic incentives and political instability will continue to drive population movement from afflicted regions. Conflict and crises will also continue to displace large numbers of people. Such movement is likely to occur in regions of sub-Saharan Africa and Asia (DCDC 2010).

In terms of responses to humanitarian crises, we will witness a world characterised by the diffusion of power. Meeting the challenges of human development will depend increasingly on non-state actors, be they private companies, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), or philanthropic institutions. Non-state actors, in particular national and transnational civil society networks and private corporations, will play a critical role in the coming decades. Their power and influence will be greater than that of many states and may lead to new forms of governance and civic action. But not all contributions by private actors will be positive: extremist non-state actors are likely to present a threat to the well-being of human communities (ESPAS 2012).

The rising power of non-state actors vis-à-vis the state is a central theme examined from several perspectives. Concurrent with the shift in power among nation-states, the relative power of various non-state actors—including businesses, tribes, religious organisations and criminal networks—is increasing. The global political coalition of non-state actors plays a crucial role in securing a new worldwide climate change agreement. In this new connected world of digital communications, growing middle classes and transnational interest groups, politics is no longer local and domestic, and international agendas become increasingly interchangeable (NIC 2008).

The impacts from the empowerment of individual and non-state actors are addressed. In democratic societies, new forms of protest and anti-establishment politics may emerge in response to a growing expectations gap, deepening income disparities and the power shifts that are limiting the action of countries that have been used to acting as major global players. From the security perspective, it is expected that over the next two decades the cyber sphere is likely to become an arena of conflict and tension between states of all political stripes and also between individuals or private companies.

The examination of the role of the individual in future societies goes even further, indicating that the citizens of 2030 will be much more aware of being part of a single human community in a highly interconnected world. This may signal the rise of a new ‘age of convergence.’ Democratic aspirations will tend to be perceived as compatible with, even as facilitating, a greater awareness of national and sub-national cultural identities (ESPAS 2012).

The role of women is also examined. Over the next 20 years, the increased entry and retention of women in the workplace may continue to mitigate the economic impacts of global aging. Examples as disparate as Sweden and Rwanda indicate that countries with relatively large numbers of politically active women place greater importance on societal issues such as healthcare, the environment and economic development. If this trend continues over the next 15-20 years, as is likely, an increasing number of countries could favour social programs over military ones. Better governance also could be a spinoff benefit, as a high number of women in parliament or senior government positions correlates with lower corruption (NIC 2008).

The current economic crisis is referred to as a driver that may reverse the trend of decreasing inequalities due to the emergence of a middle class in Asia, Latin America and also Africa. Overall, however, inequality will tend to increase and poverty and social exclusion will still affect a significant proportion of the world population (DCDC 2010). At the same time, increasing social and economic pressures may undermine liberal institutions and the long-term prospects for greater democratisation (NIC 2008).

The proliferation of modern weapons’ technologies will generate instability and shift the military balance of power in various regions. Nuclear weapons are likely to proliferate. Terrorist groups are likely to acquire and use chemical, biological and radiological or nuclear (CBRN) weapons possibly through organised crime groups (DCDC 2010), but a major conflagration involving CBRN weapons is not likely to happen over the next two decades (ESPAS 2012, NIC 2008).

The possibility of inter-state conflict cannot be discounted entirely. Looking ahead to 2030, the border tensions between China and India over water resources have the greatest potential to disrupt international peace. Conflicts are also foreseen due to current tensions between Algeria and Morocco over the Western Sahara, the problems emerging as a result of the possible collapse of North Korea, and unresolved conflicts in Eastern Europe. Tensions over raw materials may also cause conflict and require new forms of crisis management. Intra-African and trans-regional forced migration due to economic factors, conflicts and environmental degradation will tend to grow. Wars fuelled by nationalism and extremist identity politics, and the associated dangers of mass murder and genocide, will be among the core security challenges of the coming decades (ESPAS 2012).

Despite the emergence of a possible ‘age of convergence’, ideologically driven conflicts are another form that continues to exist. The social tensions caused by intrusive global culture are likely to be most acute amongst those who seek to maintain their indigenous and traditional customs and beliefs, and feel threatened by changes. This is likely to lead to an increasing number of individuals and groups forming around single issues that differentiate them from wider society and becoming marginalised and possibly radicalised. When such conditions exist, particularly when exacerbated by high levels of marginalisation and social exclusion, sections of the populace will develop grievances that may lead to extremism (DCDC 2010).

Urbanisation is also seen as an important trend. By 2040, around 65%, or 6 billion, of the world’s population will live in urban areas, attracted by access to jobs, resources and security. The greatest increases in urbanisation will occur in Africa and Asia. As up to 2 billion people may live in slums, these areas are likely to become centres of criminality and disaffection and may also be focal points for extremist ideologies. Rapid urbanisation is likely to lead to an increased probability of urban, rather than rural, insurgency (DCDC 2010).

In addition, megacities are also highlighted as possible sources of conflicts as well as important future players. By 2030, the fifty greatest megacities in the world will concentrate more resources than most small and middle-income states, and they will demand more autonomy and exert greater power, even taking on a more prominent international role. Preserving humane living conditions in the world’s megacities will be the major challenge facing some states. Cities will also absorb most national security resources (ESPAS 2012).

Trends in innovation and technology are also being examined especially for solutions to the major trends and challenges mentioned above. Technology will provide partial solutions for both adapting to and mitigating the effects of climate change. However, it is unlikely that, by 2040, technology will have produced low emission energy sources capable of providing the majority of the energy demanded. Nevertheless, advances in carbon capture technology are likely to be significant, allowing fossil fuel usage to continue in a limited emission regime using more coal. Despite this, resource competition, carbon pricing, increased energy demand and the limitations imposed by climate change are likely to increase the cost of fossil fuels, stimulating the development of cleaner, renewable energy solutions and nuclear power (DCDC 2010).

However, from a security perspective, technology will also facilitate the organisation of protests and high impact terrorist attacks. The future global environment will be defined by physical, social and virtual networks. The physical system will consist of complex interconnections, including extensive resource pipelines, communication cables, satellites and travel routes. The virtual networks will consist of communications servers linking individuals and objects, many of which will be networked through individual Internet Protocol (IP) addresses. Avenues for protest and opportunities for new and old forms of crime will emerge and may allow hostile groups to form and rapidly create effect (DCDC 2010).

In terms of defence technologies, many states are likely to develop ballistic and cruise missiles capable of delivering CBRN weapons as well as conventional payloads (DCDC 2010). The majority of the technological breakthroughs are likely to be driven by the commercial sector, although technological adaptation in defence will continue at a rapid pace. Nonlethal, directed energy weapons (DEW), space and cyber technologies will be available to a wide variety of actors, both state and non-state (DCDC 2010).

Finally, there is growing demand for multilateral policies in the global and regional arenas for an increasing number of issues from the fight against climate change to disease control. There is, therefore, need for more multilateralism and, arguably, for a larger European role (EU-GRASP).

The Way Forward in European Security Research

In several studies, recommendations address a number of grand challenges from a security perspective, for instance, in the field of energy, the environment or migration. FORESEC, for example, recommends developing a common EU energy security strategy – energy policy is still driven by national-level approaches. FORESEC also recommends a dialogue with the security and intelligence services across the EU as useful input in formulating counter-terrorism legislation at the EU level.

EU-GRASP places special emphasis on the role of the EU in a multi-polar world and recommends that the EU adapt to changing global multilateralism. The EU must be steady in promoting multilateralism as an ideal but extremely flexible in its multilateral practice; it must find ways to engage with legitimate sub-national, multinational and transnational non-state actors and their networks.

In its recommendations, the NATO Security Jam study (Dowdall 2012) focuses on security issues of global concern, managing relations with emerging powers such as establishing a NATO-China Council (NCC) similar to the NATO-Russia Council.

SANDERA produced a long list of suggestions for further research. One suggestion regards the analysis of the portfolio of policy instruments at the EU level in view of defining the potential for strengthening European synergy in defence research.

FORESEC repeats the importance of researching certain definitional and analytical aspects of security (i.e. on societal aspects of security, unintentional threats, external dimension of security and its link to internal security, cultural aspects of terrorism, societal resilience and cultural and social identity). In addition, it suggests assessing impacts of certain challenges on security, i.e. vulnerability of societies in the EU, migration and demographic shifts and security, climate change and security, urbanisation and security.

EFP Mapping Results represent a major step forward in the successful implementation of a new mapping framework (SMART Futures Jigsaw) capable of providing customised forward-looking research and innovation policy intelligence on a wide range of sectors, such as security. Both the Mapping Environment (a web-based platform available online at www.mappingforesight.eu) and our mapping work (1st, 2nd and 3rd EFP Mapping Reports) demonstrate the commitment of EFP to the mapping of FLA practices, players and outcomes. Thus, our FLA mapping work will almost certainly continue beyond EFP.

Authors: Effie Amanatidou         effie.amanatidou@mbs.ac.uk                   Rafael Popper             rafael.popper@mbs.ac.uk                         Thomas Teichler thomas.teichler@technopolis-group.com
Sponsors: n.a.
Type: Thematic overview on security
Organizer: MIoIR/MBS, University of Manchester
Duration: n.a.
Budget: n.a.
Time Horizon: 2020-2050
Date of Brief: December 2012

Download EPF Brief No. 248_Drivers, Trends and Grand Challenges in Security

Sources and References

Amanatidou et al. (2012): 2nd EFP Mapping Report on Security Futures. Towards a Fully-Fledged Futures Mapping: Results of Mapping 16 FLA on Security, available for download at http://www.foresight-platform.eu/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Deliverable_2-4_2nd_EFP_Mapping_Report_Security_Futures.pdf

DCDC – Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre (2010): Global Strategic Trends – Out to 2040, available for download at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/33717/GST4_v9_Feb10.pdf

Dowdall, Jonathan (2012): The new global security landscape. 10 Recommendations from the 2012 Security Jam, available for download at http://www.securitydefenceagenda.org

ESPAS – European Strategy and Policy Analysis System (2012): Global Trends 2030 – Citizens in an interconnected and polycentric world, available for download at http://www.espas.europa.eu/home/

EU-GRASP, http://www.eugrasp.eu/, last access 15 January 2013

NIC – National Intelligence Council (2008): Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World, available for download at http://www.dni.gov/files/documents/Newsroom/Reports%20and%20Pubs/2025_Global_Trends_Final_Report.pdf

EFP Brief No. 225: FESTOS – Foresight of Evolving Security Threats Posed by Emerging Technologies

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

New technologies can improve our quality of life greatly, but they may also have a “dark side”. The objectives of FESTOS were to identify and assess evolving security threats posed by the potential abuse of emerging technologies and new scientific knowledge, on the one hand, and propose means to reduce the likelihood of such threats, on the other. Looking ahead to the year 2030, this foresight study scanned the horizon of different fields of technology. Possible means of prevention and policy measures were studied in the context of trade-offs between security needs and the freedom of research and knowledge.

Emerging Technologies
Pose New Threats to Security

The FESTOS project (Foresight of Evolving Security Threats Posed by Emerging Technologies) identified and assessed evolving security threats caused by the abuse or inadequate use of emerging technologies and areas of applied research. Looking ahead to the year 2035, FESTOS scanned the horizon of fields such as nanotechnology, biotechnology, robotics, new materials, and information technology, as well as capabilities that might emerge from converging technologies.

FESTOS identified and evaluated these potential threats on the horizon. Based on this scanning, FESTOS stimulated “out of the box”, forward-looking thinking and constructed “threat scenarios”. Finally, FESTOS recommended policy guidelines designed to minimise the probability of these evolving security threats materialising. Possible means of prevention and policy measures were studied in the light of trade-offs between security needs and the freedom of research and knowledge while taking into account shifts in the public perception of threats and related security issues.

Three Pillars of the Project

FESTOS had three pillars:

  1. To identify new, potentially threatening technologies.
  2. To assess emerging threats and – based on a selected set of potential threats – to construct scenarios with appropriate early-warning indicators.
  3. To draft preparatory measures and policy guidelines.

As all foresight studies, FESTOS did not aim to predict the future. Instead, the project sought to raise awareness and initiate a debate among and between scientists and policy-makers about the possible “dark sides” of future technologies.

Technology Scanning

The FESTOS team carried out a horizon scanning of emerging technologies that might pose security threats in the future if these technologies are abused. Furthermore, an assessment of the potential threats was carried out. The first result was a structured description of around 80 “potentially threatening” technologies in the six fields listed above. The next step was to evaluate the threat aspects of 33 selected technologies by means of an international expert survey in which 280 experts participated. The collection of technologies was not intended to be exhaustive but to stimulate further discussions and provide a basis for the subsequent analysis. As such, it can serve as a “dynamic data bank” of potentially “abusable” technologies.

Determining the Nature and Severity of Threats

Subsequently, the results of the expert survey were analysed in terms of the likely time spans for the threats to materialise, prioritisation (relative impact of each technology), the nature and extent of the potential damages, as well as societal issues. This activity included ranking and selecting security threats for scenario construction. In methodological terms, the exercise included expert brainstorming sessions, a security assessment (including Ansoff filters and the STEEPV method), an analysis of the relevant signals of change and wild cards.

Scenario Development

Four narrative scenarios based on the identified security threats from emerging technologies were developed. The aim of the scenarios was to depict possible futures that take into account the social dimension and the interdependency of different impacts. In a scenario workshop, five methods and procedures were used: wild cards, security climates, futures wheel, security café for impact analysis and brainstorming.

Control and Prevention

The possible control of scientific knowledge to prevent unintended new security threats is a very sensitive issue in open democratic societies. FESTOS raised a debate on whether and how to control emerging science and technology developments in order to prevent abuse without slowing down the process of knowledge creation needed for innovation, progress and improving human life. Secondly, FESTOS analysed the problematic issue of controlled dissemination of scientific knowledge in the light of the inevitable trade-offs between security and freedom of research and knowledge creation. The methods used were an online survey of approximately 100 selected experts and representatives from various parts of society, followed by 5-10 semi structured in-depth interviews in each of the participating countries (Poland, Germany, Finland, UK and Israel) with selected key actors representing civil society and other relevant organisations, and, finally, an international workshop on control and prevention, with the participation of invited experts and representatives.

 

 Top Technology Threats and Threat Scenarios

Three Types of Potential Threats

Examination of the diverse technologies led to identifying three broad categories of potential threats: The first category is the disruption of certain technological applications for malicious purposes (for example, jamming communications in intelligent collision avoidance systems in transportation). The second category concerns the increased availability of technologies that once were confined to the military or to unique, heavily funded laboratories and were prohibitively expensive. The third category concerns surprising malicious uses of new technologies developed for completely different, beneficial and civilian purposes. The most interesting for FESTOS seemed to be the third category, where we found the most unexpected threats, signals of change or surprising “wild cards”.

Ten New Top Priority Threats

The threat analysis resulted in a prioritisation of the threatening technologies with respect to their potential for malicious use (combining the easiness of putting them to malicious use and the severity of the threat). The resulting top ten technologies are:

  1. Smart mobile phone mash-ups
  2. Internet of things (IoT)
  3. Cloud computing
  4. New gene transfer technologies
  5. Advanced artificial intelligence
  6. Synthetic biology
  7. Cyborg insects
  8. Energetic nanomaterials
  9. Radio-frequency identification (RFID)
  10. Autonomous & semi-autonomous mini robots

Furthermore, the intensity of the potential threat (i.e. the overall threat to several spheres of society according to the experts) posed by the ten most relevant technologies was prioritised:

  1. Advanced artificial intelligence
  2. Human enhancement
  3. Swarm robotics
  4. Cyborg insects
  5. Internet of things (IoT)
  6. Water-catalysing explosive reactions
  7. Future fuels and materials for nuclear technologies
  8. AI-based robot-human interaction
  9. Cloud computing
  10. Programmable matter

For the time scale 2015 – 2020, the following potential “wild card technologies” were identified (i.e. technologies with high severity threats and a low likelihood of actual abuse): swarm robotics, brain implants, water-catalysing explosive reactions, future fuels, self-replicating nano-assemblers, medical nano-robots, ultra-dense data storage, meta-materials with negative light refraction index and synthetic biology.

Four Scenarios for Threat Assessment

Four narrative scenarios for threat assessment and identification of indicators were produced:

Scenario 1: Cyber-insects Attack!

Swarms of cyber-insects attack people and animals.

Scenario 2: The Genetic Blackmailers

Individual DNA is misused for purposes of extortion.

Scenario 3: At the Flea Market

Intelligent everyday nanotechnology-based products can be set to self-destruct, which is triggered by a wireless signal.

Scenario 4: We’ll Change Your Mind…

A terrorist group uses a virus to change the behaviour of a portion of the population for a certain period of time.

Conflict between Security and Freedom of Research

With the aid of the expert survey and the interviews, the FESTOS team assessed the respondents’ perceptions of the awareness, acceptance and effectiveness of control and prevention measures. The results show that control and prevention measures exist, mostly in the fields of ICT and biotechnology. On the basis of the national reports on the participating countries’ security institutions, we can say that the main institutions engaged in control activities are governments, ministries and security agencies. Most of the control measures have a high or very high impact on scientific knowledge, especially the freedom of science, knowledge creation and dissemination. The experts consider media, including the Internet, to be a dangerous channel of dissemination. By contrast, the most accepted control measures are

  1. education curricula including programmes aiming to raise the awareness of potential threats,
  2. measures invented by the knowledge producer and
  3. measures developed by the media to limit the publication of sensitive knowledge.

Codes of conduct, internal guidelines (bottom-up approach) and legal regulations are perceived as the most effective control measures.

 

Policy Conclusions

Continuation of Horizon Scanning of Emerging Technologies

There is a need for networking, international cooperation and broader expert panels to evaluate emerging technologies continuously with respect to possible unintended effects relevant to security. More detailed technological evaluations are required in the short-term, and it was suggested that at least sixty to eighty technologies need to be evaluated. FESTOS provides a starting point to cover all the risks and work towards a EU risk strategy in different areas of science and technology. In addition, there is a need to cooperate much closer with the EU patent office and with patent agencies around the world. It is furthermore very important to secure financing in Horizon2020 to allow continuing the horizon scanning work carried out in FESTOS.

Academic Freedom in Democratic Societies and “Knowledge Control”

There is a tension between possible security dangers of technology R&D and academic freedom, and there seem to be only two “stronger” control measures that academics are willing to accept: internal guidelines in research organisations and codes of conduct. Codes of conduct are the preferred control mechanism in R&D.

Ethical Control and Codes of Conduct

Since science and technology is globalised and develops at a fast pace, we can only have ethical control if there are international codes of conduct, to be developed by international organisations. Scientists need to understand the consequences of their research, and this needs to be handled at an international level. There seems to be a difference between democratic and non-democratic countries in this respect. In democratic countries, there is less of a threat that scientists might develop technologies that will be misused. In societies that are more closed and lack democratic institutions, scientists tend to continue their research even if they are aware that their invention might pose a threat to security. In any event, industry has a massive influence, including the ability to effectively lobby for its interests. Some of could focus on safe researcher practices, codes of conduct etc. and assist in the creation of an international “control” environment.

Project Assessment, Social Responsibility and Security by Design

It is highly desirable that the “dark side” is considered at the beginning of projects. Therefore, it is crucial to develop assessment criteria. It is more effective to build in design control measures during the design phases of the research than to turn to ethical assessment after the research is completed. Such an anticipatory approach results in “security by design”.

Networking: the Role of the State and the EU

Another critical element is “networking and networks”, which will be very important in the future. This aspect concerns how scientific organisations are networked to produce results for society. All innovations are based on knowledge, and we must develop knowledge-management systems to manage the dark sides as well. This requires an active role of the EU Commission and European Parliament.

The Role of Education

There is a need to educate students as early as possible about threats and security issues during their studies at university. Knowledge about these control dilemmas should be added to the universities’ curricula.

We also need early media training for children since they will encounter a number of challenges as they increasingly navigate an expanding digital universe. Such media proficiency is even more important since the digital universe can be unfamiliar or even unknown to their parents, who are “digital immigrants”.  The future “digital natives” can only cope and shape the digital universe if they are properly informed and know how to protect themselves.

Bottom-up vs. Top-down Approaches of Control

Actors and decision-makers, as they balance security needs, the requirements set by open democratic societies and the freedom of science, should take active measures against the possible dangers of the dark side of technologies. More promising than top-down measures are bottom-up proposals: Instead of legislation and coercive measures with rather questionable outcomes, the FESTOS team proposes to develop soft and optional measures. These measures, first of all, are based on self-regulation, self-control and the education of engineers and scientists. Codes of conduct, ethical guidelines and educational measures may initially be established on sub-state levels but must be developed into national, Europe-wide and global regimes. While self-regulation and education may be the means of choice in most cases, it has to be stressed that there are also exceptional cases, such as weapons of mass destruction, for instance. In these cases, there exist international regimes to regulate the prohibition of research and development of extremely dangerous technologies and, for the most part, the international community complies with the rules. An example is the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC), which was the first multilateral disarmament treaty banning the production of an entire category of weapons.

FESTOS Consortium

The consortium of the project “Foresight of Evolving Security Threats Posed by Emerging Technologies” (FESTOS) consists of the following partners:

Interdisciplinary Centre for Technology Analysis and Forecasting (ICTAF) at Tel-Aviv University, Israel

Finland Futures Research Centre (FFRC), University of Turku, Finland

Centre for Technology and Society, Technical University of Berlin (TUB), Germany

Institute of Sociology (IS), University of Lodz, Poland

EFP Consulting (UK) Ltd, UK

Authors: Burkhard Auffermann    Burkhard.Auffermann@utu.fi

Aharon Hauptman         haupt@post.tau.ac.il

Sponsors: European Union DG Research
Type: European Union foresight
Organizer: ICTAF – Interdisciplinary Center for Technology Analysis and Forecasting,                                             Coordinator: Dr. Yair Sharan, sharany@post.tau.ac.il
Duration: 2009 – 2011
Budget: € 824,552
Time Horizon: 2035
Date of Brief: February

Download: EFP-Brief-No.-225-FESTOS

Sources and References

http://www.festos.org/