Debating Europe, along with our partner think-tank Friends of Europe, is holding another live event on 20 March 2012 between 13h00 and 14h00 Central European Time (CET). We’ve invited Anne Glover, Chief Scientific Advisor to EU Commission President José Manuel Barroso, and Dan Reed, Corporate Vice President of the Technology Policy Group, Microsoft Research, to answer questions about how new technologies might affect Europe by the year 2050. What do YOU think? We’ll be putting questions from users to our panelists, and you can click HERE to submit yours.
Technology today is already revolutionising the way Europeans live, work and play, but what might things look like by the century’s mid-point? Will we have a Green Europe of smart energy grids and an “internet of things” to conserve resources? Could ubiquitous high-speed internet and open data lead to a golden age of democracy and freedom of speech? Might personalised medicine help us slash healthcare costs and save the “European social model”? Or do new technologies deliver as many dangers as opportunities? What are some of the ethical challenges around civil liberties, privacy and human rights that we may face in 2050, and what can Europe do today to plan for the future?
We’ve already touched on some of these topics, including a question sent in on Twitter from @10comm suggesting “It would be good to debate why EU [Information Technology] is not visible / not there.” Why are all the most successful ICT start-ups from the US and not the EU?
Another commenter, Paul, suggested steps that could be taken to help encourage Europe’s tech industry:
I think looking at technology hubs, based around universities, would work well in Greece. Montpelier in France is a good example – a lovely place to live – small technology companies move nearby and soon you are developing many other companies supporting the hard tech ones.
What about how technology might transform other aspects of European life? Eric Lagally has also suggested ways technology could affect health-care:
Technologies like rapid diagnostics and integrated electronic medical records could play a major role [in health-care]. If you only see a patient once, as is often the case with immigrants, the poor, and transient populations, medical records need to follow the person, not the other way around.
Could this help protect the “European social model” from increasing public-sector cuts? Eric thinks not. He warns that technology is not a magic bullet:
Spend the money and technology on reinforcing access to primary health care (as promised in the Millennium Development Goals anyway) and in the long run, the health care dollars will go a lot further.
Finally, John suggests a few ways technology might impact democracy:
They fear that the electorate may well get a taste for referenda, which would seriously undermine the need for so many of them. they can see that, with progress in technology, government by consensus is just around the corner. Then there will be no more second home allowances and the like. Just good old democracy.
The theme running throughout many of the more hopeful comments we’ve received is one of revolution, change and renewal. Old systems are seen as crumbling and unable to cope with the challenges of modern life. Corrupt politicians will be swept away and replaced with direct internet democracy; old business models (such as those pursued by the entertainment industry) will eventually succumb to the ravages of online piracy and allow artists to sell directly to their fans; struggling energy and welfare systems will be re-invigorated with shiny new technology. Is this wishful thinking? What about the dangers and the risks?
What do YOU think? What will Europe’s tech revolution look like? Let us know your ideas and questions in the form below.