Posts Tagged ‘software’

EFP Brief No. 157: Roadmap Robotics for Healthcare

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

The main aim of this study was to provide key research policy recommendations for the application of robotics in healthcare in the research programmes of the EC. The study also aimed at raising awareness about important new developments in this field among a wider audience. To this extent, a roadmap of promising applications of robotics in healthcare and associated R&D was developed, taking into account the state of the art as well as short and long-term future possibilities with a time horizon ending in 2025.

EFMN Brief No. 157_Robotics for Healthcare

EFP Brief No. 154: Looking Forward in the ICT and Media Industry – Technological and Market Developments

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

The project was an activity within the framework contract between the European Parliament and ETAG, the European Technology Assessment Group, to carry out TA studies on behalf of the Parliament’s STOA Panel in view of the growing importance of a European science and technology policy. The purpose of this particular project was to identify current and expected technological and market developments in the field of ICT with an impact on the media industry and to indicate regulatory challenges and requirements stemming from the anticipated changes. The main target group are the Members of the European Parliament; the wider addressee is the interested public.

EFMN Brief No. 154_ICT and Media Industry

EFP Brief No. 152: Combining ICT and Cognitive Science: Opportunities and Risks

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Many experts think that the technological convergence of previously separated sciences like nanotechnology, biotechnology, information and communication technologies and cognitive sciences will have a deep, long-term impact on society and economy. Key actors in society need to become aware of the challenges linked to converging applications (CA) and take decisions in support of developing them. By analysing CA-related opportunities and risks at a very early stage, we hope to contribute to reducing possible adverse effects in the future.

EFMN Brief No. 152_ICT and Cognitive Science

EFP Brief No. 151: Furniture Foresight Centre – CEFFOR®

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

CEFFOR was created to promote the sustainable development (in terms of all three pillars: economic, social and environmental) of the
furniture industry in countries with high costs of production. CEFFOR is to accomplish this task by means of contributing strategic
information to the social agents and companies who participate in determining enterprise strategies and industry policies.

EFMN Brief No. 151_Furniture Foresight Centre

EFP Brief No. 145: Constructing Dark Scenarios for Privacy Policy Formulation

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

In the last few decades, scenarios have provided a way of analysing the implications of alternative futures, especially as they might be impacted by new technologies. This has been no less true of ambient intelligence (AmI), which may be embedded everywhere in the not so distant future. Most of the scenarios developed by AmI enthusiasts have been rather “sunny”, showing how new technologies promise to make our lives more productive and enriching. A European project called SWAMI (Safeguards in a World of Ambient Intelligence) deliberately developed “dark scenarios” to highlight the threats to privacy, identity, trust and security and inclusiveness posed by new technologies. This brief describes the SWAMI scenarios and the methodology used to construct and analyse them.

SWAMI Dark Scenarios

While most AmI scenarios paint the promise of the new tech-nologies in sunny colours, there is a dark side to AmI as well. In a way, this dark side is inherent in the very nature of AmI, for instance, the fact that AmI technologies will deliver per-sonalised services to users means that somewhere a lot of per-sonal information needs to be stored about the user. That being the case, there are risks that the user’s personal information can be abused, either accidentally or intentionally. These risks have been recognised by policy-makers and researchers, and were at the heart of the SWAMI project, funded by the Euro-pean Commission under its Sixth Framework Programme.
The project began in February 2005 and finished 18 months later. The SWAMI consortium had five partners: the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research (Germany), the Technical Research Center of Finland (VTT Electronics), Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Belgium), the Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (IPTS, Spain) of the EC’s Joint Research Centre, and Trilateral Research & Consulting (UK).
One of the tasks of the project was to create and analyse four dark scenarios that highlight the key socio-economic, legal, technological and ethical risks to privacy, identity, trust and security posed by new AmI technologies. They were called “dark scenarios”, a term coined to signify things that could go wrong in an AmI world, because they present visions of the future that we do not want to become reality. The objective of the scenarios was to expose threats and vulnerabilities as a way to inform policy-makers and planners.
The process in constructing the scenarios began with an exten-sive review of existing AmI-related projects and studies. Fol-lowing a workshop with other AmI experts to discuss the most important threats and vulnerabilities posed by AmI, the SWAMI partners had a brainstorming session until we agreed on the rough outlines of four contrasting scenarios. We then developed these outlines into scenario stories or scripts. To ground the scenarios in reality – to ensure that they were not too far-fetched – we did a “technology check” (are the technologies referenced in the scenarios probable?) and a “reality check” (are there press reports of events similar to those mentioned in the scenarios?). Then each partner reviewed all of the scenar-ios in order to eliminate doubtful points, unnecessary wordage,irrelevancies, etc., and to sharpen them to illustrate the points to be emphasised. Once the scenarios were “stable”, we per-formed an analysis of them, including a legal analysis. The scenarios and associated analyses were presented at a second SWAMI workshop in order to benefit from the comments of other experts. This scenario-construction process can be de-picted as follows:

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The resulting four scenarios, elaborated in our book, Safeguards in a World of Ambient Intelligence (see the references below), are the following:

Dark scenario 1: A typical family in different environments – presents AmI vulnerabilities in the life of a typical family moving through different environments. It introduces dark situations in the smart home, at work and while taking a lunch break in a park.

Dark scenario 2: Seniors on a journey – also references a family but focuses more specifically on senior citizens on a bus tour. An exploited vulnerability in the traffic system causes an accident, raising many different problems related to both travel and health AmI systems.

Dark scenario 3: Corporate boardroom & court case – involves a data-aggregating company that becomes the victim of a theft of personal AmI-generated data that fuel its core business. Given its dominant position in the market, the company wants to cover this up but ends up in court two years later. The scenario also highlights the disparities between countries with AmI networks and those without.

Dark scenario 4: Risk society – from the studios of a morning news programme, this scenario portrays the AmI world as a risk society. It presents an action group against personalised profiling; the digital divide at a global scale and, related to environmental concerns, the possible vulnerabilities of AmI traffic systems and crowd management.

 Elements in the SWAMI  Scenario Methodology

The SWAMI consortium devised a methodology, an analytical structure for both constructing and deconstructing scenarios, not only the SWAMI scenarios, but many other technologyoriented scenarios. The analytical structure comprises the following elements or activities:

Framing the scenario

This first step summarises the scenario in question and explains its context – who are the main actors in the scenario, what happens to them, what they do, how far into the future is the scenario, where does it take place and in what domain (home, office, on the move, shopping, etc). It identifies the type of scenario (trend, normative, explorative) and key assumptions (e.g., intelligent technologies will be embedded everywhere in rich countries, but not in poor countries).

Identifying the technologies and/or devices

Next, the most important AmI technologies and/or devices used and/or implied in the scenarios are identified.

Identifying the applications

The analysis then considers the applications that emerge in each scenario and that are supported by the technologies mentioned in the previous step.

The drivers

The analysis identifies the key drivers that impel the scenario or, more particularly, the development and use of the applications. Drivers are typically socio-economic, political or environmental forces, corporate ambitions or personal motivations (e.g., greed).

Issues

Next, the major issues raised by the scenarios are identified and explicated. A discussion of the issues considered the threats and vulnerabilities exposed by the scenario, their impacts and legal implications.

Conclusions

The final step is a reality check of the scenario itself (how likely is it?) and a consideration of what should be done to address the issues it raises.

Large-scale Data Availability Multiplies Threats and Vulnerabilities

The SWAMI scenarios highlighted many of the threats and vulnerabilities that we foresee afflicting the AmI world. The principal difference (in our view) between an AmI world and that which we know today is the scale of the data available. When everything is embedded with intelligence, when AmI is pervasive and invisible, when everything is connected and linked, the threats and vulnerabilities that we know today will multiply. In an AmI world, we can expect to be under surveillance (“transparent”) wherever we go because the permanent and real-time registration and processing of our presence and behaviour is the precondition – the “code” – of ambient intelligence.

The threats to our privacy, however we define it, can come from many different sources. Here are some of the principal ones that affect us today and we can assume will still be threats in an AmI world:

  • hackers and attackers,
  • function creep,
  • surveillance,
  • profiling,
  • lack of public awareness or concern about privacy rights,
  • lack of enforcement and oversight of privacy rights,
  • erosion of rights and values,
  • uncertainties about what to protect and about the costs of protection and privacy erosion,
  • government and industry are less than forthright about the personal data they collect and/or how they use that data

Is Protection Feasible? – Safeguards

The multiplicity of threats and vulnerabilities associated with AmI will require a multiplicity of safeguards. We grouped safeguards into three main approaches:

  • technological,
  • socio-economic,
  • legal and regulatory.

Technological Safeguards – Need for Sophisticated Methods for Controlling Data Collection and Use

The main privacy-protecting principles in network applications are anonymity, pseudonymity, unlinkability and unobservability. The main difference between existing network applications and emerging AmI applications is two-fold: first, in the former case, the user has some understanding of which data about him or her are collected, and has some means to restrict data collection: e.g., to use a public computer anonymously to access certain web pages; to switch off his or her mobile phone, to pay cash instead of using a web service, etc. In the latter case, with the environment full of numerous invisible sensors (and video cameras), it is difficult, if not impossible, for users to understand and to control data collection and to achieve unobservability, anonymity and pseudonymity. Intelligent data processing, limiting linkability and implementing strong access control to collected data seem to be the main ways of protecting privacy in such applications. However, such applications present potential privacy threats anyway if the police, intelligence agencies, family members or criminals can search through devices that store personal data.

A second important difference between existing network applications and emerging AmI applications is that neither mobile devices nor web usage penetrates through such strong privacy-protecting borders as walls and the human body, but physiological, video and audio sensors, proposed for AmI applications, will have much stronger capabilities to identify a person and to reveal personal activities and feelings.

Consequently, future AmI applications will require stronger safeguards, many of which are not yet fully developed. Hence,

we proposed research on developing privacy-protecting safeguards such as:

  • communication protocols which either do not require a unique device identifier at all or which require authorisation for accessing the device identifier;
  • network configurations that can hide the links between senders and receivers of data;
  • improving access control methods by multimodal fusion, context-aware authentication and unobtrusive biometric modalities (especially behavioural biometrics, because they pose a smaller risk of identity theft) and by liveness detection in biometric sensors;
  • enforcing legal requirements and personal privacy policies by representing them in machine-readable form and attaching these special expressions to personal data, so that they specify how data processing should be performed, allow a privacy audit and prevent any other way of processing;
  • developing fast and intuitive means of detecting privacy threats, informing the user and configuring privacy policies;
  • increasing hardware and software capabilities for realtime data processing in order to minimise the lifetime and amount of raw data in a system;
  • increasing software intelligence by developing methods to detect and to hide sensitive data;
  • developing user-friendly means for recovery when security or privacy has been compromised.

Socio-economic Safeguards Require Cooperation

Co-operation between producers and users of AmI technology in all phases from R&D to deployment is essential to address some of the threats and vulnerabilities posed by AmI. Among the socio-economic safeguards we proposed were these:

  • standards,
  • privacy audits,
  • codes of practice,
  • trust marks and trust seals,
  • reputation systems and trust-enhancing mechanisms,
  • service contracts with strong privacy protections,
  • guidelines for ICT research,
  • raising public awareness,
  • including privacy, identity and security issues in the professional education curricula of computer scientists,
  • media attention, bad publicity and public opinion.

Legal and Regulatory Safeguards  – Transparency Is Key

SWAMI identified some serious legal problems when applying the existing legal framework to address the intricacies of an AmI environment. We found that most of the challenges arising in the

new AmI environment should be addressed by transparency tools (such as data protection and security measures). Transparency should be the default, although some prohibitions referring to political balances, ethics and core legal concepts should be considered too.

A set of rules needs to be envisaged to guarantee procedural safeguards similar to those currently applicable to the protection of our homes against state intervention (e.g., requiring a search warrant). Technical solutions aimed at defending private digital territories (the private sphere of the individual no matter where he is) against intrusion should be encouraged and, if possible, legally enforced.  The individual should be empowered with the means to freely decide what kind of information he or she is willing to disclose. Such protection could be extended to the digital movement of the person, that is, just as the privacy protection afforded the home has been or can be extended to the individual’s car, so the protection could be extended to home networks, which might contact external networks.

All employees should always be clearly and a priori informed about the employee surveillance policy of the employer (when and where surveillance is taking place, what is the finality, what information is collected, how long it will be stored, what are the (procedural) rights of the employees when personal data are to be used as evidence, etc.).

The status of pseudonymity under the law needs further clarification, whether pseudonyms should be regarded as anonymous data or as personal data falling under the data protection regime.

The obligation of data protection law to inform the data subject about when and which data are collected, by whom and for what purpose gives the data subject the possibility to react to mistakes or abuses, and enables him to enforce his right in case of damage. It would be desirable to provide the individual not only with information about what data are processed, but also what knowledge has been derived from the data. This might imply a rethinking of data protection law.

A means to prevent data laundering could be envisaged which would create an obligation for those who buy or otherwise acquire databases, profiles and vast amounts of personal data, to check diligently the legal origin of the data. An obligation could be created to notify the national data protection authorities when personal data(bases) are acquired. Those involved or assisting in data laundering could be subject to criminal sanctions.

Profiling practices and the consequent personalisation of the ambient intelligence environment lead to an accumulation of power in the hands of those who control the profiles and should therefore be made transparent.

Simply identifying safeguards is not sufficient, of course, so the SWAMI consortium went further and specifically addressed recommendations to the European Commission, member states, industry, academia, civil society organisations and individuals.  The reader interested in more details should consult the references below.

 

Authors: David Wright                                       david.wright@trilateralresearch.com
Sponsors: European Commission / DG Information Society and Media
Type: Field/sector specific
Organizer: B-1049 Brussels, Belgium
Duration: 2005 – 2006
Budget: € 399,797
Time Horizon: 2017
Date of Brief: July 2008

Download: EFMN Brief No. 145_Dark Scenarios

References

Wright, David, Serge Gutwirth, Michael Friedewald et al., “Privacy, trust and policy-making: challenges and responses”, Computer Law and Security Review, Vol. 25, No. 1, 2009 [forthcoming].

Wright, David, Serge Gutwirth, Michael Friedewald et al., Safeguards in a World of Ambient Intelligence, Springer, Dordrecht, 2008.

Wright, David, “Alternative futures: AmI scenarios and Mi-nority Report”, Futures, Vol. 40, No. 1, June 2008, pp. 473-488.

Wright, David, Michael Friedewald et al., “The illusion of security”, Communications of the ACM, Vol. 51, Issue 3, March 2008, pp. 56-63.

Wright, David, Serge Gutwirth and Michael Friedewald, “Shining light on the dark side of ambient intelligence”, Fore-sight, April 2007, pp. 46-59.

EFP Brief No. 137: The Future of Manufacturing in Europe A Survey of the Literature and a Modelling Approach

Saturday, May 21st, 2011

Manufacturing in Europe is facing challenges that may impact on its performance in the near future: the emergence of international competitors, new technologies allowing the emergence of new business models, increased off-shore and relocated activities. The aim of this study was to provide policy-makers with a long-term vision of European manufacturing, its characteristics, its place in the EU economy, in the world and the main challenges it will be facing. Its purpose was to identify, on the basis of current demographic, environmental, technological, economic and social trends, and possible scenarios, the likely bottlenecks, unsustainable trends and major challenges that European manufacturing will have to face over the coming 30 years. From this, implications for various microeconomic policies, notably for industrial policy, were explored, contributing to the mid-term review of industrial policy in 2007 by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Enterprise and Industry.

Future of European Manufacturing

Manufacturing in Europe is affected by a changing world. In 2004, ten countries joined the EU followed by Bulgaria and Rumania in 2007. Most of the new member states have a different economic structure and other comparative advantages than the ‘old’ EU-15, in particular in labour-intensive industries. This is also the case for the candidate countries from the Balkans and Turkey. Enlargement hence not only offers opportunities in terms of a larger domestic EU market, but also in terms of specialisation and – associated – economies of scale and scope.
Secondly, a new wave of globalisation unprecedented in terms of scale and speed is unfolding. This process of economic integration – with resources becoming more mobile, economies becoming increasingly interdependent and financial markets becoming increasingly international – has important implications for the future of manufacturing. This also holds for the integration of China and India in the world economy; each is home to about 20 percent of world population. Both countries are leading and highly competitive exporters, India in software and IT-enabled services, and China in skill-intensive manufactures. Especially China has emerged as the powerhouse of the Asian region and has in less than 20 years become the world’s manufacturing and trading platform. Globalisation has also impacted European manufacturing in another way: lower production costs and the potential of new consumer markets have caused European manufacturers to increase the quality and design of their products and
have led to international sourcing of (parts of their) production. Thirdly, consumer demand in Europe itself is changing. As its citizens are becoming wealthier, they demand more services and place higher requirements on manufactured goods. Demographics (ageing) might strengthen this change. Finally, the pace of technological change appears to have sped up in viewof globalisation and increasing international competition. Globalisation, EU integration, shifting demand and progress in science and technology, and innovation – whether disruptive or not – will all have a major impact on how the manufacturing landscape in Europe in terms of location, production, distribution of labour and physical appearance will manifest itself in the near and longer-term future. The purpose of this long-term scenario study was twofold: (1) to provide policy-makers, decision-makers and others with
two long-term scenario-based views on the future of European manufacturing and (2) to explore the scope for EU policies to positively address and influence the future.

Combining Qualitative and Quantitative Foresight Approaches

The scenarios in this study have been developed in three consecutive stages, consisting of (i) a survey of existing futures studies, (ii) the drafting of qualitative scenarios, and (iii) a quantification of the scenarios using WorldScan, a dynamically applied general equilibrium model for the world economy. This approach was designed as a hybrid combining the traditional foresight studies with more quantitative oriented economic-scenario studies.
One important difference between the two groups of studies is the detail with which technological factors are explored in the foresight studies compared to the economic-scenario and modelling studies, which generally treat them as exogenous factors. Furthermore, while the foresight studies, in contrast to the modelling studies, largely employ qualitative scenarios, this study aims at combining the benefits of both approaches:
first synthesising the results from many foresight studies to develop qualitative scenarios, followed by a quantification of the expected implications to check for the consistency of the scenarios as well as assess the expected impacts of policy packages. Furthermore, the communities conducting foresight studies and economic-scenario modelling studies have largely co-evolved with little interaction between them. This has led to foresight studies, focusing on participative processes and qualitative (policy) analyses and recommendations, producing
results that are challenged by approaches focusing on quantitative analyses. This study therefore aimed to bridge the two communities by employing methods used in each of them. As such, the results of the study can also be seen as an experiment on how to conduct such studies in the future, combining methods from different communities.

A Three Part Structure

As outlined above the study consisted of three distinct parts: a literature survey, the development of qualitative scenarios and the quantification of the scenarios using a modelling approach.

Survey of Future Studies

The survey of futures studies served two goals: (1) to help identify the relevant main drivers and trends that form our current perspective and knowledge that can be seen as key to the future of manufacturing in Europe and (2) to explore what other expert groups and think tanks regard as possible manufacturing futures.

The timeframe considered in the literature surveyed ranged from 2015 to 2050. During the course of stage one, 101 foresight reports, scenario studies, academic publications and policy documents were surveyed along five clusters: international, technological, social and environmental trends and drivers as well as new business models. The studies surveyed covered European studies, global studies, North-American studies and South-East Asian studies in order of importance.

FutMan, ManVis and Manufuture – three major EU-wide foresight projects conducted over the past five years – formed the backbone of the survey. The results of these foresight studies were supplemented by other materials ranging from theme or aspect futures studies (e.g. expected income developments; impacts of climate change) to similar foresight studies carried out in other countries, such as the U.S. (e.g. IMTI, 1998; SRI), Japan (Nistep, 2005) and China (NRCSTD, 2005 – for further references see full background report [Zee & Brandes, 2007]).

Qualitative Scenarios

The survey identified at least five sets of major drivers affecting the future of European manufacturing. These drivers are: (1) globalisation and international competition, (2) technological progress, (3) socio-demographic change (in income and wealth, social values, shifting preferences, ageing), (4) energy and resource scarcity, and (5) climate change and the environment. Based on these, two scenarios were developed: Cosy at Home and Adventuring the World. The two scenarios exemplify two explicit but ‘moderate extremes’ based on further integrating markets, on the one hand, and a stalling or reversal of market integration, on the other. In Cosy at Home, inwardlooking, risk-averse, indecisive behaviour dominates the public as well as the private realm. In Adventuring the World outward-looking (resulting in a further opening-up), risk-loving and pro-active behaviour is prime.Cosy at Home  This scenario depicts a European manufacturing sector that faces an overall business and political climate that gradually becomes more inward-looking and passive. Uncertainty and indecisiveness at world level are answered with

a European response of retreat. Politically unstable regions, threats of international terrorism, absence of binding action at global scale to tackle the negative consequences of climate change and the inevitable depletion of fossil fuels, and – related – a lack of real breakthroughs in alternative energy production and promising new technologies (nanotechnology and to a lesser extent biotechnology), give people the feeling of standstill and uneasiness. This in turn translates into a downturn in consumer and producer confidence and more inward-looking and risk-averse behaviour. Trust is something that may be found close by, but certainly not far from home. Rising energy prices and strong increases in monitoring and control of international movements of persons, goods and services result in a cost explosion in international transport and trade, which significantly alters the turn-of-the-century trend towards a further integrated world economy.

Adventuring the World  This scenario depicts a European manufacturing sector that is faced with an overall business and political climate of international cooperation, openness, but also strong competition. European self-confidence strengthens as the political and ideological emptiness that characterised the turn-of-the-century era has been replaced with new inspiring notions of Europe’s role in the world. This includes Europe assuming the position of a front-runner in solving problems of global warming, energy use and ageing as well as major breakthroughs in European social and cultural integration. Renewed decisiveness has triggered momentum at the global level and geo-political instability and threats of international terrorism are gradually disappearing. Considerable progress is made in alternative energy production and promising new technologies (nanotechnologies and biotechnology) have taken hold. A general upswing in consumer and producer confidence combines with new openness, and outward-looking and adventurous entrepreneurial behaviour. Trust relationships thrive. Rising energy prices stimulate new and more cost efficient energy-saving ways of transport of persons and products. Adequate road pricing and energy taxation increasingly supplant traditional labour taxes, making mobility and energy consumption better manageable and curbing harmful consequences.

Quantification of Scenarios

In the third step, the scenarios were quantified using an applied general equilibrium model for three main purposes: (1) the model ensured that the scenarios were consistent, since economic variables allow to describe and relate constraints and the current knowledge about interactions in the economy in a consistent form; (2) the quantification gave a feeling for the relative importance of various developments for the future well-being of society; (3) the model also offered the possibility of assessing the impact of framework policies and their relative importance.
However, large parts of the scenarios could not be quantified, as the general trends observed are expected to impact variables over too long time horizons for workable quantitative assumptions. The complex feedback loops furthermore make it only realistic to illustrate the scenario trends related to economic growth and economic integration, which are at the heart of the WorldScan model. (For details on the quantification of the scenarios and their expected impact on manufacturing please see the ‘final report’).

Impact of Framework Policies on Scenarios

The quantification of scenarios sketched the macroeconomic developments, showing the possible impact of globalisation, technological change, ageing and structural change towards a service economy on economic growth and trade. Europe is expected to become less important as a place for manufacturing production in both scenarios as manufacturing shifts to Asia. The question whether these trends could be affected by policies was assessed in the third step. Rather than thinking about targeting and subsidizing specific industries, framework policies that could affect the environment where industrial production takes place in Europe were modelled for potential impact on the scenarios. The framework policies analysed were: (1) upgrading skills, (2) more effective regulation and less administrative burdens for firms, (3) R&D and innovation policies, (4) a strong competitive single market, (5) environmental policies, (6) supporting energy policies and (7) global trade policy. The macro-economic outcomes for the EU as a whole in 2025 for both scenarios were analysed under the different framework policies. The differences between the two scenarios are minor. In Adventuring the World, GDP increases slightly more than in Cosy at Home, mainly because of the large impact of R&D and internal market policies. Exports increase faster in Cosy at Home, largely due to a composition effect of a higher share of total exports destined for other European countries. An increase in intra-EU exports due to new single market policies thus has a larger effect on total exports. R&D and innovation policies have the largest impact representing about 40% of the total GDP effect based on the lower bound returns in the literature. The reduction in administrative burden adds about 1.5% to GDP, internal market policies about 2% and skills even less. However, over time, when the whole labour force has been educated, the effects of upgrading skills will be larger. From Gelauff and Lejour (2006) we know that GDP effects will be three times as high in 2040 compared to 2025. However, compared to other framework policies, the economic effects even in 2040 will be unsubstantial.

A Future for Manufacturing

The analysis has shown that the share of manufacturing in employment and value added has decreased in Europe for decades reflecting structural changes in the global economy. However, manufacturing will remain important for trade and productivity increases, outpacing by far the service sector.

Global manufacturing is expected to grow, fuelled by Asian economic development. Nevertheless, there is a future for manufacturing in Europe. In 2025, Europe’s share in global manufacturing production and trade is estimated to be about 20%, much higher than its share in global population. Manufacturing is also estimated to contribute more than 15% to European value added in 2025 and to remain the most important driver for exports. A further strengthening of the internal market and adequate R&D and innovation policies can have a substantial impact on these shares. Both can be influenced by EU policy-making, but the framework policies cannot reverse the trends in shares of value added and employment. Within the manufacturing sector various developments will take place. The study discriminated between ten aggregate manufacturing sectors: ‘food products’, ‘textiles and wearing apparel’, ‘wood and other manufacturing’, ‘pulp, paper and publishing’, ‘chemicals, rubber and plastics’, ‘basic metals’,
‘non-metallic minerals’, ‘electronic equipment’, ‘transport equipment’ and ‘other machinery and equipment’. Based on
historical productivity growth paths of these sectors, their trade openness, R&D intensity, energy efficiency and skill intensity, it is highly likely that these (sub)sectors will develop differently over time. This also applies to subsectors within the ten sectors identified. Most sectors can distinguish between basic and specialized manufacturing activities, with basic manufacturing on average being more affected by international
competitiveness than specialized manufacturing.

Openness a Key Determinant

A number of interesting conclusions about the future of manufacturing in Europe were drawn. The increase in trade and,more generally, globalisation appears to be one of the most important drivers, making the sectors that are already most open to international trade also the ones mostly affected in the future. They include textiles and wearing apparel, wood and other manufacturing, chemicals, rubber and plastics, electronic equipment, transport equipment and other machinery and equipment. Overall, the sectors food products and pulp, paper and publishing will be less influenced. These are more domestically oriented sectors, less R&D intensive and face less technological
progress. Europe has no comparative advantages in textiles and wearing apparel, electronic equipment and basic
metals. This disadvantage will become further manifest in the oncoming twenty years. In particular, this applies to electronic equipment, which – while in the past representing a relatively large sector – will decline even further. Textiles and wearing apparel is an already small sector in terms of value added and employment, which means that an even less prosperous future for this sector will also have less overall impact. Chemicals, rubber and plastics, transport equipment and other transport and equipment will be the most important manufacturing sectors in Europe,
despite a deteriorating comparative advantage in the other machinery and equipment sector. These sectors are important for European exports and will account for about a quarter of global production and trade in these sectors over the coming decades. Of the framework policies analysed in this study, improving skills, reducing the administrative burden and increasing energy efficiency, have the least impact on manufacturing. R&D and
innovation policies and strengthening the internal market, on the other hand, have the strongest and most positive impact on manufacturing. They are also the most ambitious in terms of policy formulation and implementation, and potentially very effective in supporting manufacturing because of their R&D intensity and open-to-trade nature. In the coming decades, Europe’s decreasing share in global manufacturing production and trade will flatten. The EU framework policies support this slowing of the relative decline of manufacturing activities in Europe, which may even come to a near standstill in sectors such as chemicals, rubber and plastics, and combined machinery and equipment.

Authors: Felix Brandes (TNO-IPG)  felix.brandes@tno.nl
Sponsors: European Commission – DG Enterprise & Industry
Type: European futures study on manufacturing
Organizer: CPB, the Netherlands (Arjan Lejour) & TNO-IPG (Frans van der Zee)
Duration: 01/2007-05/2007
Budget: 130,000€
Time Horizon: 2037
Date of Brief: March 2008

Download: EFMN Brief No. 137_ Manufacturing in Europe

Sources and Links

The key results of the study were published as part of Chapter 5 of the European Competitiveness Report 2007. More details and the full scenarios are published in the background reports and final report and can be accessed via the website of the European Commission and the CPB the Netherlands.
http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/enterprise_policy/industry/index _en.htm

Brandes, F., A. Lejour, G. Verweij & F. van der Zee (2007)
“The Future of Manufacturing in Europe”, Final Report, 31st May 2007, available at:
http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/enterprise_policy/industry/doc/f
uture_manufacturing_europe_final_report.pdf

CEC (2007) “Chapter 5: The Future of Manufacturing in Europe – a survey of the literature and a modelling approach”
in European Competitiveness Report 2007, 31st October 2007,SEC (2007)1444, available at:
http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/enterprise_policy/competitiveness/1_eucompetrep/eu_compet_reports.htm

Lejour, A. & G. Verweij (2008) “Two quantitative scenarios
for the future of manufacturing in Europe”, CPB Netherlands
Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis, available at http://www.cpb.nl/nl/pub/cpbreeksen/document/160/doc160.pdf

Zee, F.A van der & F. Brandes (2007) “Manufacturing Futures
for Europe: A survey of the literature”, TNO the Netherlands,
available at:
http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/enterprise_policy/industry/doc/future_manufacturing_europe_literature_final_report.pdf

EFP Brief No. 136: Policy Options for the Improvement of the European Patent System

Saturday, May 21st, 2011

The purpose of the project “Policy options for the improvement of the European patent system” has been to assess whether the European patent system adequately fulfils its purpose of stimulating social and economic welfare through the enhancement of technological innovation, and to investigate if improvements can be made. It was commissioned by The European Parliament’s STOA panel (Scientific Technology Options Assessment) from the European Technology Assessment Group (ETAG) and carried out on its behalf by the Danish Board of Technology. The main target group, therefore, was the Members of the European Parliament.

The European Patent System under Pressure

Since October 2005, a group of five European scientific institutes (ETAG) has been providing scientific services for the European Parliament’s STOA panel on social, environmental and economic aspects of new technological and scientific developments. Inspired by a report from the Danish Board of Technology about the future of the European patent system, the STOA panel commissioned an assessment of the current strengthening and expansion of the patent system in order to identify key challenges and ways of dealing with them.

Combined Expertises

A working group was first established, comprising three legal and three economic experts, hands-on experience from the European Patent Office (EPO) as well as a rapporteur. This combination of expertise has been applied in order to bring together insights from these two disciplines, both of which are central to current debates about the workings of the patent system but whose knowledge is rarely combined in this way. The task of the group was to write a report with the following objectives:

  • to analyse the historical and present impact of the European patent system on innovation and diffusion of knowledge,
  •  to identify current key trends in the patent system,
  • to identify the challenges these trends present,
  • to point to policy options that may meet these challenges and, in the process, improve the functioning of the European patent system.

The analysis provided by the report and the policy options presented as a result draw on existing knowledge from legal and economic experts as well as on input from various stakeholders and peer reviewers. The group met five times to discuss the report contents and drafts prepared by the rapporteur assigned to the project. In between these meetings, various drafts of the report were exchanged and commented on through email communication.
A preliminary draft of the background analysis was presented and debated with MEP’s at a workshop at the European Parliament in November 2006. In attendance were 12 independent and more patent experts and stakeholders, all invited to present policy options and debate them with MEP’s and the working group. These contributions played an important role in compiling the report and writing the final draft. Furthermore, an interim version of the full report was commented on by several workshop speakers and peer reviewed by economic and legal experts. A final draft of the report was presented and debated at the European Parliament in June 2007 with MEP’s and various stakeholders.

Balancing Inventor’s Rights  with Societal Concerns

The fundamental premise of the report is that the primary purpose of a patent system is to enhance social and economic welfare by stimulating innovation and diffusion of knowledge. Balancing the exclusive rights of a patent granted to inventors with the overall societal concern of wider economic growth and social welfare is fundamental, because the reward offered to inventors in the form of exclusive rights provides the incentive to innovate, but if the reward is too excessive, it might hamper innovation and the distribution of knowledge. The trends and challenges identified by the working group all relate more or less to this balance.

Important Trends Influencing the Balance  of the European Patent System

1. Increasing number of inventions

New windows of opportunity have been opened by R&D in a number of technical fields, which individuals, firms and other organizations seize upon in order to produce an increasing numbers of inventions, which then require patent protection. Technological fields such as electrical engineering/electronics and biotechnology/pharmaceuticals have contributed greatly to this trend. Also nanotechnologies are set to repeat the explosion formerly seen by biotechnologies, which have made patent protection available in fields not previously appearing on the patenting scene.

2. New inventors

New inventors not formerly involved in patenting, such as universities, are appearing. This is the result of science, especially academic science, emerging as a fertile ground for inventions. Also countries that did not use the patent system before now tend to use the patent system more. For example the number of patent applications from China and India are growing fast and seem on the verge of catching up with the Korean patent office, where the patent portfolio of applicants is already as large as that of well-established European countries.

 3. Newly patentable subject matters

Science-based inventions contribute to the growth of patent applications to the extent that many of the new subject matters have been added in order to make room for science-based inventions. Most notably, this has occurred with gene-related patents.

4. Increasing demand for patent protection

Firms and other organizations that engage in inventive activity nowadays have a higher propensity than before to look for patent protection for “assertive” and “defensive” reasons. The explanation for this is that companies and not-for-profit research institutions are often worried about the possibility of other organizations ending up monopolizing a new technological field through patenting and, as a result, pushing them to pursue strategic patenting activities to guard against that potential monopoly.

Challenges Facing the  European Patent System

From the assessment of key trends, the report identifies a range of challenges:

1. Coping with a rapidly increasing demand for patent rights without compromising the quality

Overall, the total number of patent applications is putting strain on the system and causing problems for patent examiners. Potentially, this pressure will mount further as, for instance, the increase in the number of countries engaged in inventive activities means the filing of more applications at the EPO. As a result, although it is difficult to document, the quality of patents is reported to be declining. The main challenge is to prevent this from happening within the European patent system.

2. Ensuring that too broad patents are not issued in Europe

The speed at which new subject matter and science-based inventions are introduced in the patent system makes it harder to assess the patentability requirements, especially the state of the art, and thus to determine whether the claimed invention is novel and involves an inventive step. An overall result is that too broad patents are occasionally granted and one of the effects is that innovation is hampered as other inventors are unable to work around the patents. The main challenge is to ensure that too broad patents are not issued within the European patent system.

3.  Alleviating the effects of patent thickets

The growth of patents in complex technologies, which require the assemblage of a multitude of inventions to move forward, has in certain areas, such as electronics, resulted in a particular form of patent behaviour. Defensive and strategic patenting has, for instance, resulted in patent thickets in some sectors, the consequences of which are generally undesirable in terms of creating too many, possibly overlapping patents, which can crowd a technological field and make it difficult and costly to navigate through. The main challenge is to alleviate the effects of patent thickets within the European patent system.

4.  Freeing company resources from trading patent rights and licensing

More companies are patenting and the effect is that a greater number of companies have to spend more time and effort on trading rights and licensing. Such resources may have been better used to innovate thus the main challenge is to ensure that companies are not forced to deal excessively with patenting and licensing and are ‘freed up’ to concentrate more on innovation.

5. Ensuring an increased level of transparency and political engagement

Increased interest in the system has resulted partly from the trends about emergent technologies and new inventors appearing and partly from a more general shift in emphasis toward issues of “governance”. The main challenge is to ensure that the European patent system is as transparent as possible and that the involvement of more experts, politicians and stakeholders in the future development of the system is secured.

Working Group Recommendations

The working group concludes that, left unchecked, the trends identified will have a damaging effect on the European patent system and may result in a negative impact on economic and social welfare. The working group developed the following policy options to meet the challenges:

1.Insertion of the economic mission of the patent system in the European Patent Convention

The recommendation on insertion of the economic mission of the patent system in the European Patent Convention involves the introduction of a preamble into the legislation. This insertion would state in clear terms what the purpose of the legislation is, namely to promote social and economic welfare. A suggestion for the wording of the preamble is as follows:

“The granting of patents serves the purpose of enhancing social and economic welfare by means of encouraging inventions and their diffusion. The protection provided by patents should be sufficient to ensure proper incentives to inventors. This should imply that patents should be granted in a proportionate and transparent manner, so as to ensure legal certainty”.

The preamble should be placed in the European Patent Convention and if the European Union is able to come forward with a community patent that same preamble is proposed to be included in the community patent legislation. The effect of a preamble with regard to, for instance, emerging technologies would be to guide legislators and to ensure the legislator considers whether the application of the patent system to an emergent technology makes sense from the point of view of the economic mission of the patent system.

2.Enhancing governance within the European patent system

The policy options under the governance heading are concerned with issues such as transparency and participation in activities related to the European patent system. One of the main challenges to be met regarding the debate about the future of the European patent system is ensuring an increased level of transparency and political accountability. First and foremost, this involves strengthening the role and expertise of the European Parliament in this field, given that it is a critical participant in these sorts of discussions. The other main challenge is trying to accommodate the rise in public interest and wish for involvement of civil society at large in matters concerning the European patent system.

The first recommendation of the working group is to establish a standing committee within the European Parliament that is dedicated to patent matters in order to formalize an internal structure within the European Parliament that will enhance its awareness of European patent issues.

The second recommendation is to establish an external advisory body to examine the impact of the European patent system on the innovative sector and other sets of interests in society. The findings it gathers and views it expresses will be part of a formalized dialogue with the European Parliament and, specifically, its standing committee on patents. This sort of body would be composed of experts in law, economics and patent-related matters. An involvement of various practitioners and stakeholders, such as consumer groups, is highly recommended.

Finally, the working group recommends the establishment of a more participatory environment within the EPO and the Commission by including more stakeholders, scientists, NGOs and consumers in the ongoing debate about the design of the European patent system.

3.Improving quality aspects in regard to patentability  standards and patent granting procedures

In order to strengthen the patent system and create stronger patents, the report recommends to look at two aspects: (i) the way in which patent offices apply the given standards for patentability and (ii) raising the standards themselves. Looking at the standards concerns the question of what is an invention and when is it valuable enough to be granted a patent. The report suggests taking a closer look at the concept of ‘inventive step’ to see if it is still fulfilling the function it is meant to have and concentrate on the concept of ‘who is a person skilled in the art’. Specific suggestions are listed in the report and include e.g. the introduction of quality management mechanisms in order to promote and monitor that consistent and predictable decisions are taken and to increase the awareness about the fact that patent offices are there to serve the general public interest and not the specific interests of applicants.

4.Dealing with emerging technologies

The patenting of emerging technologies gives rise to special concerns about patent quality in regard to both the patent system and the individual patent. The quality problem at the system level is about setting the standards for patents and deciding on what is going to be considered patentable subject matter and what is not. At the executive level (i.e. the EPO), the quality problem relating to emerging technologies deals with applications of patent standards in individual cases. The special problems in emerging technologies in this regard are that prior art can be limited and hard to find for an examiner. In order to avoid these sorts of problems, the report suggests bolstering the executive level by allocating additional resources to EPO examiners to better assess prior art and avoid too broad patents being granted, and finally, to ensure ongoing deliberations between politicians, experts and stakeholders on what is patentable and what is not.

5. Increasing access to patented inventions

Patents that crowd the market create a patent thicket that makes it difficult for an inventor to enter the market. In order to overcome a patent thicket, negotiations will have to be started with each and every patent owner in order to obtain a legitimate access to the patents and to obtain the necessary licences. The report suggests two different measures, which would facilitate access to patented technology. One is the license of right, which is a legal mechanism by which a patent holder voluntarily chooses to give general access to anyone willing to pay a certain license. The other possibility suggested is to facilitate access to a web of patents by the establishment of collective rights management models such as patent pools and clearinghouses. The report recommends further investigation of these models, especially in view of current EU competition law.

6.Facilitating defensive publications

The report recommends that the European patent system be geared more towards an increased use of publication of inventions rather than patenting per se. Both companies and not-forprofit research institutions are often worried about the possibility that other organizations will end up monopolizing a new technological field through patenting, which may push them to pursue strategic patenting activities to guard against that potential monopoly. But strategic patenting is a costly way to prevent monopolization. The publication of scientific results may achieve the same effect for free. Such a process is referred to as “defensive publishing”. And, in fact, firms for a long time have used defensive publishing in industry areas such as software. In cases when an inventor decides to defensively publish rather than patent, he gives up the potential of exclusive rights. In return though, a freedom to use the invention is secured for that inventor, and for others. For this kind of defensive publishing to be effective, publications must be made readily accessible to examiners so as to provide a helpful additional source of information, including the prior art. It is recommended therefore, that measures be introduced to facilitate the practice of defensive publications within the European patent system.

Authors: Bjørn Bedsted                                         bb@tekno.dk

Signe Skibstrup Blach                            ssb@tekno.dk

Sponsors: The European Parliament’s panel for Scientific Technology Options Assessment (STOA)
Type: A European technology assessment/foresight project with the purpose of proposing policy options for the improvement of the European patent system.
Organizer: The Danish Board of Technology/ETAG      www.tekno.dk and www.itas.fzk.de/etag Contacts: Bjørn Bedsted, Signe Skibstrup Blach (e-mail see above)
Duration: 2006-2007
Budget: 135,000€
Time Horizon: 2007
Date of Brief: February. 2008

 

Download: EFMN Brief No. 136_ European Patent System

Sources and References

The Danish Board of Technology: www.tekno.dk STOA (the report is available for download under “final studies”): www.europarl.europa.eu/stoa/default_en.htm ETAG: www.itas.fzk.de/etag/
The members of the group were: Mr. Robin COWAN, Professor of economics, BETA, Université Louis Pasteur and UNUMERIT, Universteit Maastricht; Mr. Wim Van der EIJK, Principal Director International Legal Affairs and Patent law, EPO; Mr. Francesco LISSONI, Professor of Applied Economics, University of Brescia; Mr. Peter LOTZ, Head of Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy, Copenhagen Business School; Mrs. Geertrui Van OVERWALLE, Professor of IP Law, University of Leuven, Belgium; Mr. Jens SCHOVSBO, Professor, University of Copenhagen, Faculty of Law and Mr. Matthew ELSMORE (rapporteur), Assistant Professor, Aarhus Business School-University of Aarhus.
The project and the report were coordinated by Bjørn Bedsted, project manager with the Danish Board of Technology. The project was supervised by Mr. Philippe Busquin, MEP and Chairman of the STOA panel.

EFP Brief No. 134: Future Challenge for Europe: Providing Security and Safety to Citizens

Saturday, May 21st, 2011

As stated in the recent EC Communication on ‘Reforming the budget, changing Europe’ (SEC (2007) 1188), the European Union has a key role to play in ‘providing security and safety to citizens’. Especially in the aftermath of 11th Sept. 2001 security related issues are becoming an increasingly important facet of global society and have an increasing impact on economy and science. The issues are manifold and include protecting citizens and state from organized crime, preventing terrorist acts, and responding to natural and manmade disasters. Civil security issues are becoming more and more important to governments and national economies across the globe, and the EU is no exception. The EC sees security research as an important policy objective, which started in 2001 with a Preparatory Action on Security Research (PASR) and is now the tenth theme of the FP7 Cooperation programme. Security and safety technologies are seen to have applications in many sectors including transport, civil protection, energy, environment, health and financial systems.

Analysing EFMN Documents: TextAnalyst

A selection of 160 foresight and futures studies was taken from the EFMN database. These were studies with different backgrounds, scopes, themes, horizons and on different scales. The semantic data-mining tool ‘TextAnalyst’ was employed to analyse the texts. First, out of the 160 studies, a small number of relevant studies was selected that had titles strongly related to the researched topic. TextAnalyst analysed these texts and found the most relevant keywords and semantic relations between the most important words. These terms were compiled into a keyword list for the researched topic. This list of keywords was used to analyse all 160 selected studies. The TextAnalyst
yielded all sentences containing any of the keywords, with an additional hyperlink in the text file allowing to view
the context in which the sentence occurred. The TextAnalyst also gave a semantic relation between the searched keywords and other words. The related terms thus identified were added to the list of keywords. The summary of sentences that contained one or more words from the list of keywords was manually read in the original context and if the sentence or the section where the sentence occurred was regarded as providing new or additional information, this section was copied into a text file. In order to avoid any extreme out-of-context copying of sentences, statements that were part of a scenario description were not added to the file. After this analysis of the 160 studies, a text file was created containing sections of the original studies with information related to the selected topic
and the reference to the original document. The dictionary for the analysis presented here consisted of the
following terms: anticipation, crisis, defence, defence, emergency, enemy, intelligence, military, NBC, NRBC, prevention, protection, risk, safety, secure, security, surveillance, terrorism, terrorist, threat and weapon. This analysis is exclusively based on the review of 36 foresights and future-oriented studies completed between 2000 and 2007 – most of them in 2004-2005. While most studies were carried out at a national level in Europe, the pool of sources also included seven studies conducted at the EU-level, eight Japanese national studies, the
global study AC-UNU Millennium project, the supranational study on information and communication technology (ICT) in the Nordic countries, and one Finnish study of regional scope.

Limitations of the Analysis

Attention should be paid to the fact that, while all 36 studies address certain safety and security issues, they are not all equally detailed. In particular, whereas some foresights (e.g. the UK Foresight) provide an in-depth analysis of the state-of-theart of technology, as well as a detailed forward look, the significance of some one-sentence statements, as they are typically made in Delphi studies such as the 8th Japanese National Foresight, may be more limited. Such statements have been considered very carefully so as not to bias the analysis. From the above, it follows that the following analysis – based on a restricted number of foresights – neither intends to be exhaustive nor to provide an overview of security and safety-related issues weighted according to their importance for future EU policies. However, it might provide some interesting insights about future safety and security threats – as predicted in foresights – as well as how future technological, societal or economic developments and policies might help to combat them. Since some of the analysed foresights are quite old, this means that some of the proposed actions could already have been implemented.

Safety & Security:  A Crosscutting Issue

Safety and security issues are generally related to all kinds of natural and human-induced (intentional and non-intentional) disasters or risks, which can affect individuals, societies or nations. Important technological and political tasks in the context of the protection of citizens and vital infrastructures have addressed a broad spectrum of issues such as future threats and vulnerabilities of critical infrastructures in key sectors (e.g. information systems, financial systems, industrial plants, public buildings, transport systems and infrastructures, communication networks, energy infrastructures, food distribution systems, etc) or the impact of terrorism and organized crime on the development of civil societies.

From the selected studies two major areas were identified bearing future risks for society: civil security and IT security. The area of civil security can be divided into subsections as follows:

  • terrorism and crime prevention,
  • ensuring the safety and security of critical infrastructures,
  • food and chemicals safety, and
  • threats from climate change and natural disasters.

Civil Security

Terrorism and Crime Prevention

Terrorism is expected to become a growing threat to all parts of society in the future mainly for two reasons. Firstly, due to the NRBC (nuclear, radiological, biological and chemical) weapons, the proliferation of ballistic, tactical and cruise missiles, and, on another level, the proliferation of small arms, the use of technological objects (e.g. civilian aircraft) as weapons and the transfer of technical know-how have multiplied risk factors for our societies. Also terrorist activities are becoming networked and are increasingly seeking points of entry into international business and, through corruption, into public administration.

The threat from terrorism must be counteracted by increased international cooperation on all levels and increased spending for security.

Another aspect raised by the study by the Finnish Committee for the Future is that because of continued synergy among, and miniaturization of, everything from chemistry sets and pharmaceutical manufacturing to genetic and nanotech engineering terrorist attacks will be much simpler to conduct in the future. Eventually an individual (single individual being massively destructive, SIMAD), acting alone, will be able to create and deploy a weapon of mass destruction.

In the broader context of terrorism, general crime prevention is an important aspect. The Japanese studies suggest that the security provided by governments will deteriorate in the future; thus people must provide for their own protection. Means like physical access control and burglary alarm systems for private homes are seen to be possible substitutes. The British study ‘Strategic Futures Thinking’ concludes that new technologies, such as DNA profiling, will prove increasingly vital in criminal trials as will more sophisticated detection, surveillance and monitoring devices in the wider field of crime prevention.

Safety and Security of Critical Infrastructures

Energy and transport infrastructures (so-called ‘critical infrastructures’) are crucial to economy and society. Therefore, it is hardly surprising that their safety and security is addressed in different foresights – at a national and supranational level. The Finnish foresight ‘Finnsight 2015’, for instance, stresses the fact that modern societies have increasingly become vulnerable in the sense that any malfunctioning or failure of critical infrastructures may paralyse the whole society. The foresights identify several threats to critical infrastructures:

  • Critical infrastructures increasingly rely on ICT applications and they more and more depend on the reliability of broad and complex ICT networks. Protecting critical infrastructures is therefore closely related to protecting the ICT networks they are based on. In this regard, ICT liability has to be ensured; it will also be particularly important to prevent criminal intrusion and the misuse of networked-based infrastructures.
  • Of course, on a global scale, terrorism is expected to remain one of the main threats in the future. Several foresights such as the Fistera study and the UK Foresight therematching them with the personal identification provided at the point of embarkation). Indeed, the terrorism threat is expected to give further momentum to the development of specific markets such as imaging technologies (allowing for instance the detection of suicide bombers in case remote identification and containment become reality).
  • Transport safety for citizens also implies reducing the risk of accidents. Thanks to the diffusion and increasing affordability of ICT, use of intelligent transport systems based on telematics as well as video-surveillance systems are expected to become more widespread to improve transport safety, for instance, by reacting in case fatigue, recreational drug use or medication impair the performance of the driver of a car or the pilot of a plane. Intelligent transport systems may also help maximise transport and logistics efficiency leading to benefits in terms of increased productivity and economic growth.

Food and Chemical Safety

Quite surprisingly, and despite their relevance for everyday life and everyone’s health, issues related to food safety is rarely addressed by the foresights screened. Some, however, do highlight that ensuring food safety requires assessing the long-term impact of harmful chemicals (e.g. heavy metals) on human beings, crops, as well as livestock. Food safety is therefore closely related to preventing damage to the environment due to chemicals in general. Standardized and socially approved tools for the risk assessment of chemicals should hence be developed. In this regard, chemical analysis is expected to be facilitated in the future through the use of miniature chemical analysis systems. Regarding functional foods, the monitoring of the long-term consequences of their use is underscored as essential. The EU may have a role to play in assessing health claims and the safety of new functional food products entering the market. Providing transparent information on health issues, safe threshold limits for specific functional food products, as well as on storage requirements will also contribute to promoting food safety for the consumer.

Threats from Climate Change  and Natural Disasters

Some studies emphasize the risk from climate change and natural disasters. Particularly in Japan the risk from natural disasters such as volcano eruptions, avalanches and earthquakes is addressed. The development of new predictive systems is proposed. Systems to observe disasters such as communications satellites, GPS, unmanned aircraft, and so on should be implemented in order to better understand situations after disasters have occurred and to be able to respond more swiftly.

Nearly all studies addressing climate change raise the issue of flooding – often in connection with the expected rise of the sea level. For instance the UK Foresight study claims that climate change will have a high impact under every scenario due to two threats. Firstly, the coasts are expected to be especially at risk: relative sea-level rise could increase the risk of coastal flooding by four to ten times. Secondly, precipitation is expected to increase flood risks across the country by two to four times. Flooding in towns and cities will be one of the greatest challenges in the future. Building in areas at risk from flooding should be avoided or, if inevitable, space should be provided to accommodate flooding in river and coastal areas. In this context, the development of effective modelling capabilities to predict flooding and manage flood routes in intra-urban areas should be pursued.

The study by the Finnish Committee for the Future also expects that change in precipitation will result in water tables falling on all continents. Droughts in areas where 40% of the population depends on watersheds controlled by two or more countries call for new water management strategies that can mitigate the effects of migration, conflicts, etc.  The threat of storm surges in coastal areas will increase due to rising sea levels combined with changes in the number, location, and strength of storms.

Although flooding is seen as one of the main challenges of the future, at the same time, it is also acknowledged that predictions in this area are steeped in uncertainty, as in the case of climate change or demographic and socio-economic trends. Thus, one has to develop robust water management strategies that will yield satisfactory living conditions for a wide range of possible scenarios.

IT Security

IT security in general is seen as a major topic of the future. Society depends on vulnerable, complex information technology systems, which need to be protected.

One major issue is the protection of privacy in the sense of protection against loss of control over one’s personal data. Already nowadays, Wikis and mostly blogs may contain data and information about an individual that could easily be disclosed to unauthorised others, given the low levels of security and privacy protection implemented so far. This risk will be enhanced in the future because of the widespread use of ambient intelligence (AmI) with its heterogeneity (in contrast to closed, codesigned systems), its complexity of hardware and software (introducing the dependability challenge), its distribution of knowledge and resources (co-operation and interconnection), as well as the foreseen mobility needs (which introduces more vulnerability than in a static world). Radio frequency identification (RFID) implants in people can also cause a threat to privacy, since they permit easy and instantaneous identification and authentication of individuals. On the other hand, they can increase security, for example, by enabling parents to easily track down their children in case of abduction.

The major challenge is to balance privacy and security needs. There are various ways to protect privacy in the future. Legislation to protect data of a personal nature is one of them. Another is by implementing new security measures. The level of privacy and security will be defined more by the location from where data are accessed than by the place where they are actually physically stored.

Another fast-growing area will be the provision of trust and guarantee services in the payments markets. A suggested new measure is establishing a clearinghouse where banks can anonymously share information about security breaches. Also, telecommunication companies are increasingly offering payment services. The introduction of m-payment systems will require new risk management systems and co-operation between different providers. It also calls for improved protection of confidential data provided by customers. Although wireless networks already provide a more secure network than the ones offered in fixed-line markets, there is need for further measures. Among those suggested are enhanced use of digital signatures (a kind of unique electronic stamp), authentication and encryption. One study suggests replacing binary network security (access or not) by more complex security mechanisms thereby granting differential access to different actors.

Three Prevailing Issues

Taking the limits of the applied methodology into account, the analysis of 36 foresights and future-oriented studies, which were completed between 2000 and 2007, yielded three major security and safety issues: terrorism, IT security and natural disaster protection in the context of the global climate change. Concerning terrorism, studies seem to perceive growing future threats to all parts of society mainly because of modern societies’ increasing dependence on computer networks and critical infrastructures and also because of the growing proliferation of NRBC agents, ballistic missiles and small arms. In the broader context of terrorism general crime prevention is also an important aspect.
IT security in general is seen as a major concern of the future. Important issues in this field are related to the protection of privacy in terms of protecting against the loss of control over personal data and to the containment of future risks connected with the widespread use of ambient intelligence (AmI), RFID chips or wireless networks. The studies addressing natural disaster protection predict rising global threats of climate change causing flooding, storms and other weather anomalies in the future. Such studies also expect that the change in precipitation will result in water tables falling on all continents, which calls for new water management strategies capable of mitigating the effects of migration, conflicts, etc.

Authors: Anette Braun (braun_a@vdi.de),   Nils Elsner (elsner@vdi.de), Andreas Hoffknecht (hoffknecht@vdi.de),  Sabine Korte (korte@vdi.de), Sylvie Rijkers-Defrasne (rijkers@vdi.de), Olav Teichert (teichert@vdi.de) – Future Technologies Division at VDI TZ
Type: Overview
Date of Brief: February 2008

 

Sources and References

  • ‘Reforming the budget, changing Europe – A public consultation paper in view of the 2008/2009 budget review’, Commission of the European Communities, SEC(2007)1188 final, Brussels, 12.9.2007.
  • ‘Meeting the challenge: the European security research agenda’, report of the European Security Research Advisory Board, September 2006.
  • 8th Japanese Foresight – Agriculture, forestry, fisheries and foods (2005)
  • 8th Japanese Foresight – Electronics (2005)
  • 8th Japanese Foresight – Environment (2005)
  • 8th Japanese Foresight – Frontier (2005)
  • 8th Japanese Foresight – Information and Communications (2005)
  • 8th Japanese Foresight – Manufacturing (2005)
  • 8th Japanese Foresight – Social Technology (2005)
  • AC-UNU Millenium Project – Antiterrorism Scenarios (2005)
  • Austrian BMVIT Safety and Security Research 2011 – EFMN Brief 33 (2005)
  • Dutch NRLO – Functional Foods Position and Future Perspectives (2001)
  • EC Ambient Intelligence in Everyday Life (AmI@Life) (2003)
  • EC High Level Expert Group (HLEG) – Foresighting the New Technology Wave

– Converging Technologies – Shaping the Future of European Societies (2004)

  • EC IPTS – D1gital Territ0ries (2007)
  • EC IPTS – The Future of M-payments (2001)
  • EC IPTS-ESTO – Future Bottlenecks in the Information Society (2001)
  • EC IPTS-ESTO Roadmapping Project – Healthcare Technologies Roadmapping – The Effective Delivery of Healthcare (2003)
  • Finnish Committee for the Future – Democracy and Futures (2006)
  • Finnish ESF – Uusimaa 2035 Scenario Project (2004)
  • Finnish TEKES – FinnSight 2015 (whole exercise) (2006)
  • FISTERA – Key European Technology Trajectories – 2nd Report (2004)
  • French FutuRIS (2004)
  • French Ministry of Defence – PP30 – Prospective Plan of the French Defense Policy in 30 Years (2004)
  • Turning the Water Wheel Inside Out. Foresight Study on Hydrological Science in The Netherlands (2005)
  • UK DEFRA – Climate Change Scenarios for the United Kingdom (2002)
  • Greek National Technological Foresight (Whole Exercise) (2005)
  • Ireland Marine Foresight (2005)
  • Japanese Optoelectronic Industry and Technology Development Association – Optical Technology Roadmap (2003)
  • Nordic Innovation Centre – ICT Foresight – Nordic foresight and visions on ICT in healthcare, security, the experience economy and production systems (2005-2007)
  • Strategic Futures Thinking – meta-analysis on published material on drivers and trends (2001)
  • UK National Foresight – Cyber Trust and Crime Prevention (2004)
  • UK National Foresight – Exploiting the Electromagnetic Spectrum (2004)
  • UK National Foresight – Flood and Coastal Defence (2004)
  • UK National Technology Foresight Programme – Foresight IT 2000 (2000)
  • UK National Technology Foresight Programme – Foresight Financial Services (2000)
  • UK National Technology Foresight Programme – Crime Prevention Panel

(2000)

 

Download: EFMN Brief No. 134_Safety_and_Security

EFP Brief No. 128: Third Czech National Research Programme (2009-2014)

Saturday, May 21st, 2011

A national foresight exercise aimed at identifying research priorities for the Czech National Research Programme III, through which about 20 % of public R&D funds are to be allocated from 2009 to 2014.

EFMN Brief No. 128_Third Czech National Research Programme

EFP Brief No. 118: Austria’s Futures: Past Perspectives and Present Expectations

Friday, May 20th, 2011

The Brief covers a foresight exercise that is unique in so far as it revisits the projections and scenarios of a historical foresight undertaken in Austria in 1983 for the challenges and changes that Austria would have to meet up to the year 2005. Not only are these sce-narios revisited but also compared to the reality of 2005. In a further step, a second foresight activity of this kind was started to build scenarios for Austria’s future in 2025. The experts of 1983 saw the microelectronic revolution as the technological pacemaker of the future and 20 years later tried to assess the actual impact of this technological progress on various parts of Austrian life.

EFMN Brief No. 118 – Austria’s Future