Yesterday, Debating Europe, along with our partner think-tank Friends of Europe, hosted a live event looking at some of the ways technology might affect Europe in 2050. Taking part in the debate were Professor Anne Glover, Chief Scientific Advisor to the European Commission President, and Dan Reed, Corporate Vice President of the Technology Group at Microsoft Research. Watch the full video from the debate below:
We covered a LOT of ground in the hour we had available. The issues raised included discussions on self-ironing clothing; intelligent vehicles that drive themselves; mobile phones that offer real-time translation between languages; how to cope with resource shortages when you’re immortal and the joys of dissecting virtual earthworms.
As well as some of the more far-future predictions, Professor Anne Glover reminded us that technology is already completely fundamental to everything we do:
Technology is sometimes invisible to us, and so it is worthwhile reminding ourselves how absolutely wedded we are to technology and how we’ve harnessed it in order to deliver us the present that we want. But, I suppose our challenge is how do we deliver the future that we want?
At the same time, the debate wasn’t just a rose-tinted look into a utopian future. As well as discussing the benefits of personalised medicine, smart energy grids, big data and “just-in-time” education, we also looked at some of the risks and dangers that might be facing us in 2050. We discussed vulnerability to cybercriminals; abuse of surveillance and censorship technologies by governments and big corporations; whether Europeans are “tech-phobic”; why scientists find it difficult to communicate with the public and how to bridge the “digital gap” and avoid excluding large parts of the population who can’t afford to keep up with the technology cycle.
Dan Reed also raised the issue of social disruption occuring due to the growing impact of technology:
The rate of technical change, as it continues to accelerate, is challenging the ability of many of our global social institutions to adapt on that timescale. We see that manifest in many ways; social disruptions and many of the things that accrue from that.
Watch the debate and let us know what YOU think. We asked a number of questions sent in from users, and covered a lot of issues. However, if there is an issue you think we didn’t cover (or, if you’d like us to go into more detail) then let us know in the form below. You can send us YOUR ideas and questions, and we’ll take them to experts, academics and policy-makers for their reactions.
Anne Glover is Chief Scientific Advisor to the European Commission President
Dan Reed is Corporate Vice President of the Technology Policy Group at Microsoft Research