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Collaborative economy: will our lives change?

Written by Peter Ide-Kostic and Kristina Svobodová

Internet collaboration is entering all spheres of our lives thanks to technology. Many different sectors are affected by the developments, such as manufacturing, design, funding mechanisms, or even communications and transport. STOA’s last workshop  on 27 January dealt with broad range of these ‘information age’ topics. This workshop was part of a project to assess the impact and potential of collaborative internet and additive manufacturing technologies.

What insights and predictions for the future did we gain from the panelists – top experts in co-creation, data science, cryptocurrencies and bioprinting?

1) The Collaborative Economy, with its increased level of co-creation and social innovation, creates a need to measure economic value in new and different ways (beyond conventional indicators like GDP). For example, Intellectual Property Rights issues become more complicated when co-creating and therefore need to be better addressed than under current legislation.

2) Additive manufacturing can improve the world. With it, we will have access to more designs and be able to produce objects with physical properties impossible to reach via traditional manufacturing processes. This has impacts such as the production of lighter and more reliable cars or building cheaper and better insulated houses. Additive manufacturing and 3D printing will certainly allow much quicker and much cheaper prototyping.

3) Human tissue has already been bio-printed – lungs, liver, kidneys or bones… In 2014 a Boston team printed a kidney that functioned for 4 hours. Major use for these techniques will not be in replacement of organs yet but more for testing of new pharmaceuticals. However, barriers to this technology remain, such as patenting issues related to the use of ‘ink-jet printing’ and ‘stem cell’ technologies.

4) Although many may think so, Bitcoin isn’t strictly anonymous. Digital signatures are used to confirm or deny transactions. Bitcoin protocols can be used for other purposes. This ‘blockchain’ could be used for crowdsourcing, and also to create sound contracts, since it builds on a distributed consensus mechanism. However, currently Bitcoin has a programmed limit of about 7 transactions per second, while VISA’s limit is more than 40,000 transactions.


Watch the video from the workshop here or read more in the presentations of panelists:

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For more information about the project:



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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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