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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, 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 25 MEPs nominated by nine EP Committees. The STOA Panel forms an integral part of the structure of the EP.
Scientific Foresight (STOA) has written 171 posts for European Parliamentary Research Service Blog

What if we genetically engineered an entire species? [Science and Technology Podcast]

A gene drive is a technique for manipulating ecosystems by introducing self-propagating custom genes among a population of sexually reproducing organisms, using the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technology. Continue reading

Digital democracy in the age of new technologies

Technologies permeate all levels of modern society and economy, the internet and electronic devices are basic tools in our everyday lives; we are increasingly dependent on technologies. Continue reading

Can technology help to win elections?

At the STOA-ESMH workshop ‘How to win Elections: Reflections on the use and misuse of technology in electoral campaigns’, a full house of parliamentarians, journalists and citizens heard a panel of distinguished scholars and practitioners discuss the role of technology and analytical techniques in contemporary election campaigns. Continue reading

What if algorithms could abide by ethical principles? [Scientific and Technology Podcast]

Algorithms are step-by-step procedures for solving a problem, usually expressed in computer code as a set of instructions for a computer to follow in order to complete a task. Continue reading

Use and misuse of technology in contemporary election campaigns

Until recently, discussions of technology and elections focused primarily on e-voting. Controversies highlighted the potential for modernising the voting system, as well as the security flaws that open opportunities for interference and manipulation Continue reading

What if ‘nudging’ good habits could make us healthier? [Scientific and Technology Podcast]

The link between high consumption of trans fats, sugar and salt, found in large amounts in processed food, and an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), type 2 diabetes and various cancers is well established. Continue reading

What if gene editing became routine practice?

Gene-editing techniques are still relatively new, but are constantly multiplying, and they seem exciting in their promise, especially since a more precise version – CRISPR-Cas9 – has recently been used for the first time in a human trial. Continue reading

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

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