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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, under the guidance of the STOA Panel of 25 MEPs. The STOA Panel forms an integral part of the structure of the European Parliament.
Scientific Foresight (STOA) has written 164 posts for European Parliamentary Research Service Blog

What if blockchain were to be truly decentralised? [Scientific and Technology Podcast]

Technological systems, once introduced in a particular socio-economic context, often evolve in unforeseen ways and may fall prey to unexpected power relations. Continue reading

What if technologies challenged our ethical norms? [Scientific and Technology Podcast]

Ethical considerations concerning the impact of research and innovation (R&I) are increasingly important owing to the quickening pace of technological innovation and the transformative potential and complexity of contemporary advances in science and technology. Continue reading

New STOA study examines 3D bio-printing for medical and enhancement purposes

3D printing refers to the production of physical artefacts by the gradual addition of layers of material. Scientists are now exploring methods of 3D bio-printing, defined here as the production of biological and ‘biologically relevant’ materials for medical and human-enhancement purposes. Continue reading

New technologies in EU cohesion policy after 2020

A study and a briefing published by the European Parliament’s (EP) Science and Technology Options Assessment (STOA) Panel, based on a proposal submitted by the EP Committee on Regional Development (REGI), provide policy options offering new directions in cohesion policy for the post-2020 period. Continue reading

Shaping the future of Europe: investing in young researchers

Scientists and Members of the European Parliament recently got together at the European Parliament in Strasbourg. The aim of the event, organised jointly by the Science and Technology Options Assessment (STOA) Panel of the European Parliament (EP) and the European Research Council (ERC), was to showcase Europe’s research and innovation efforts through programmes such as Horizon2020 and one of its most successful initiatives, the ERC. Continue reading

How can the EIT strengthen EU innovation?

What should innovation policy look like as we approach 2020 and prepare for the next Multiannual Financial Framework? Continue reading

What if law shaped technologies? [Science and Technology Podcast]

Technology does not operate outside its legal context. Law reacts to technological developments through the adoption, for example, of health and employment rules, or tax and risk assessment standards, to prevent technological advances from undermining human rights, environmental standards and democratic values. Continue reading

Science is not finished until it is communicated!

More than ever, science and new technologies surround us in our daily lives. Equally, more than ever, it seems that nobody understands enough about this. Digital communications, artificial intelligence, big data: you do not have to be a high-tech geek to see the impact new technologies are already having on our lives. Continue reading

What if technologies shaped the law? [Science and Technology Podcast]

Εxploring the relationship between law, technological innovation and regulatory governance has always been a challenging task for policy-makers. Technologies are often seen as ordinary objects of formal law that can fit into traditional doctrinal classification. Continue reading

What if social media were open and connected? [Science and Technology Podcast]

Social media platforms are often thought of as open and connected spaces, since they allow users to communicate with a wide range of people and organisations. It seems obvious that to have access to a social network it should be necessary to open an account with the platform, and that on closing the account that access would be lost. Continue reading

Maglev transportation [Science and Technology Podcast]

Magnetic levitation-based transport might soon enter our lives, providing faster, safer and more energy-efficient journeys. As longer distances can be covered faster and more cleanly, could they change the way in which we choose where to live? Continue reading

New collection asks if we should fear artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) is emerging, once again, as one of the most hotly debated technologies on the horizon. This horizon is getting closer and, in some application areas, AI is already here. This has prompted debates about what AI means for the future of humanity, which occasionally includes extreme predictions on employment (such as a job-free society), and existential threats (such as a human-free earth). Continue reading

Looking for new ways to finance transport infrastructure projects in cross-border regions

Meeting large infrastructure needs – including proper maintenance and operation – is and will remain a major challenge for the European Union (EU) in the coming years, requiring targeted innovative financing mechanisms. Continue reading

The future of employment: can we be optimistic about the impact of new technologies?

The relationship between new technologies, employment and inequality has gained a lot of attention recently. One reason for this interest is alarming reports about the possible negative consequences for employment of the widespread use of new information and communication technologies (ICTs), including machine learning, digitalisation of production, robotics and automated vehicles. Continue reading

What if all technologies were inherently social? [Science and Technology Podcast]

How technology has shaped society and how future technologies might affect it in the years to come are subjects for frequent debate. It can be tempting in this context to think of technologies as neutral ‘things’ that can be used for good or bad depending on the user’s intentions and skills. Continue reading

Achieving a sovereign and trustworthy ICT industry in the EU

The European Union (EU) faces a number of challenges to its goal of achieving a trustworthy and cyber-resilient digital single market: (i) a lack of funding for European cybersecurity companies to scale up; (ii) fragmentation of the European cybersecurity industry; (iii) strong dependence on non-EU providers; (iv) misalignment between public research and development programmes and market needs; (v) regulatory fragmentation; and (vi) a lack of common standardisation and procurement requirements across Member States. Continue reading

Prospects for e-democracy in Europe

E-participation in politics is expanding worldwide, driven by the development of digital tools that can be used for citizen involvement – social media, deliberative software, e-voting systems – and growing access to the internet. Continue reading

What if all our meat were grown in a lab? [Science and Technology Podcast]

Livestock production has an enormous environmental impact. The total land used for keeping animals and growing crops for their consumption amounts to around 30 % of the world’s ice-free land surface, and the livestock supply chain is responsible for about 14.5 % of global human-made greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. Continue reading

How assistive technologies could make society more inclusive of people with disabilities

Assistive technologies (ATs) are designed to improve the functional capabilities of people with disabilities. Some are relatively low-tech and very familiar, such as reading glasses, crutches and hearing aids. Others are more advanced, using cutting-edge science and technology, with future ATs under development that could have a huge impact on all our lives. Continue reading

What if editing genes could fight rare diseases? [Science and Technology Podcast]

A new technique to simplify gene editing might herald a new era of genetic modification. What are the benefits and potential dangers of this technique, and how should policy-makers respond? Continue reading

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