Interdisciplinary Research cluster

Technological Change and Society

Techological change affects all spheres of society, from politics and media, to law, entertainment and culture, reshaping also the nature of work. We engage engineers, computer scientists and leaders from industry, government and civil society in constructive interdisciplinary thinking about policy.

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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.

Event series

Our events 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.

Frontier Talks

These events are lectures on cutting edge issues, with prominent scientists expert in disciplines not researched at the EUI (such as philosophy, physics, chemistry, computer science, etc.). A 60' lecture is followed by a 60' interaction with the audience. Following the talk, we issue a written report of the meeting that is useful for academics, practitioners, and policymakers.

Industry Talks

These events feature industry or government representatives sharing the experience of their organizations with technological innovation. We discuss the impact of technologies from the viewpoint of the “actors” effectively developing and/or implementing them. We also intend to discuss how developers and adopters think about technological and societal risks arising from innovation. These meetings are open to EUI members only.

Digital Coffee Meetings

This is a series of informal meetings featuring brief presentations, with non-technical language, by EUI members working on digital transition. With this series of meeting we intend to build a common knowledge within the EUI community of the many activities developed around digitization and its consequences. These meetings are open to EUI members only.

Technological Disputations

These are very informal meetings among EUI Tech Cluster members. The "proposer" of the topic/sentence has the floor first for 5-10 minutes, followed by the "discussant", with the same time allotment. This initial interaction can be managed as a dialogue, with opening statements and "rebuttals". We then open the floor for discussion, which will be concluded by the discussant and the proposer, each with a brief wrap-up. Given the interdisciplinary aims of the group, we should keep in mind to explain specific terminology we use, for better communication with people from other disciplines.

CIVICA Data Science Seminar Series

The Data Science Seminar series is a multi-disciplinary series focused on applications and methodologies of data science for the social, political, and economic world. Its aim is to allow researchers to share original, new work or work in progress in order to get methodological or technical comments and suggestions. Shared among the partner institutions of the CIVICA network, this series directly addresses the data science research stream of the CIVICA initiative. More information

Publications

Anthony Rosborough, Science Fiction and AI: Lawmaking lessons from the mythical origins of copyright law, EUIdeas blog, 5 May 2021

Francisco de Abreu Duarte, "AI, Hume and a guillotine: The dangers of machine-learning loops", EUIdeas blog, 21 April 2021

Philip Hanspach and Marina Sanchez Del Villar, Unlocking the potential of AI : opportunities and challenges for European policy, Policy Briefs; 2021/16; Florence School of Regulation

The team

Group members

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