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Technological Change and Society


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We are currently witnessing a wave of technological developments – in communications (IoT, big data and blockchain), biology and chemistry (nano technologies), mechanics (robotics), and computer science (AI, edge and quantum computing) – that are profoundly affecting our societies, communities, and economies. In the workplace, autonomous and adaptive technologies open prospects of a new cycle of automation, impacting on the formation of attitudes, the allocation of resources and the exercise of power. Technological change also generates new social, ethical, and legal questions in fields such as individual freedoms and human rights, competition and market structure, consumer protection or public health. And the Covid-19 pandemic is raising more questions than ever about the role of technology in crisis management.

We will investigate these challenges with the aim to assist policy makers. Indeed, policy is the natural arena for interdisciplinary work, generating a common conceptual language and new insights across the fragmented research in the different social sciences. We adopt a global perspective but will focus on the EU’s ability to play a leading role, while preserving its fundamental values.

Three main observations motivate our activities:

  • This technological change affects all spheres of society, from politics and media, to law, entertainment and culture, reshaping in particular the nature of work.

  • Development and deployment of technologies in different social contexts bring both opportunities and risks.

  • New technologies can be governed – through economic, social and legal instruments – to maximise benefits, control risks and observe fundamental values.

Our workshops will engage engineers and computer scientists, academics in social sciences and leaders from industry, government and civil society to discuss which current issues would benefit most from interdisciplinary investigation.


Cluster activities


Invited workshops are planned on these topics:

Persuasion technologies: from advertising to campaigning

  • Recommender systems
  • Customer protection
  • Fake news and echo chambers
  • Bias and Fairness
  • Big companies and political influence


Impact of digitalisation on employment and workplace

  • Hiring process and post-hiring outcomes
  • Algorithmic discrimination and transparency
  • Digital surveillance
  • ‘Platformisation’ of work and gig economy
  • Robotization and work

October/November 2020

Workshop on Technology, digital markets: competition and market structure


  • Big data and entry barriers
  • Interoperability and data sharing
  • Network externalities and winner-takes all
  • Evolution of market structure and the role of digital industries during the pandemics
  • GAFAM as enablers of resilience for the economy, the pandemic case


Format: invited workshop + open workshop wth call for papers and posters

21 May 2020

Preliminary brainstorming meeting within EUI

Page last updated on 28 July 2020