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Will crowdsourcing, open data and 3D printing revolutionise industrial society?

Written by Peter Ide-Kostic

Webstreaming available here 27/01/2015 at 2pm
Discuss it via Twitter: #CollaEco

What if…?

Poster: STOA Collaborative economyWhat if, in the future, a majority of companies use internet-based collaborative technologies as a business tool to co-create digital assets people want to buy, such as music, software, digital designs of 3D printable objects, hardware designs, etc.? What if they simply use crowd-sourcing to search for innovative solutions to complex technical problems? What if dedicated cloud and social network services flourish, further easing the online co-creation process, using secure encrypted and anonymous communication channels? How would this affect the economy and our lives?

It is likely that the users of such new services or platforms will inspire themselves from the digital content already available everywhere on the net (legally or illegally). They will reuse or adapt it for co-creation purposes, thus creating new innovative products and services. This new advanced form of ‘social production’ based on the exploitation of the ‘collective intelligence’ and ‘cognitive surplus’ of the crowd, raises a number of challenges and opportunities. For instance, responsibilities in case of legal infringements in the area of consumer protection rights, protection of intellectual property rights and copyright, privacy rights, etc., might be very challenging to establish (given the distributed and global nature of the online co-creation process).

Did you pay tax on that?

Crowd-workers by their nature will be based internationally – raising questions as to in which jurisdiction they will pay taxes, and to the legality of their working on an anonymous basis. How would taxes be collected in this context, and what would be the impact on society if workers are paid in BitCoins? Is it possible that internet collaborative technologies increase the productivity of the organisations that use it, and therefore increase their revenue? National GDP might even increase as an indirect result of the productivity gains reached through collaborative internet technologies.

Are you sharing everything?

New companies are expected to emerge that offer innovative services based on the data generated by our car, our wearable devices, and in general all connected devices and all of our online activities on social networks. For instance, some commercial services might automatically share, on Facebook, information related to health and physical activity, the way we drive, eat and sleep, and also work. Social networks are expected to become even more ubiquitous, and they will track everyone, everywhere almost automatically. In the public sphere, all EU governments will publish openly information such as traffic, parking space availability, public transport schedules, electricity consumption, air quality, etc. In short, data will become the new oil of the economy and the capacity to exploit it will become a critical skill.

Tell us – what do YOU think?

How to get involved

Join the debate and explore all of these open questions plus many more during the STOA workshop:

‘Impact and potential of collaborative internet and additive manufacturing technologies – Will crowdsourcing, open data and 3D printing revolutionise industrial society?’

  • Where: European Parliament Brussels – Paul Henri Spaak (PHS) 7C050
  • When: on 27 January 2015

Detailed programme

About Scientific Foresight (STOA)

The Scientific Foresight Unit (STOA) carries out interdisciplinary research and provides strategic advice in the field of science and technology options assessment and scientific foresight. It undertakes in-depth studies and organises workshops on developments in these fields, and it hosts the European Science-Media Hub (ESMH), a platform to promote networking, training and knowledge sharing between the EP, the scientific community and the media. All this work is carried out under the guidance of the Panel for the Future of Science and Technology (STOA), composed of 27 MEPs nominated by 11 EP Committees. The STOA Panel forms an integral part of the structure of the EP.


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