How will technology change our lives in Europe?
During Michaelmas Term (the first trimester of the academic year), the European Studies Centre organises a weekly ‘ESC Core Seminar’ on Tuesdays at 5 pm. On 31st October was my turn. The title was fixed a while ago, based upon my work at the European Parliament: ‘How will technology change our lives in Europe?’
The Centre for Technology and Global Affairs co-hosted this seminar with the European Studies Centre. It was a pleasure having Dr. Lucas Kello as discussant during the seminar entitled ‘How will technology change our lives in Europe?’, where I presented how we are using foresight at the European Parliament for understanding how technology could change our lives. Lucas is senior lecturer in International Relations. He serves as Director of the Centre for Technology and Global Affairs, a major research initiative exploring the impact of modern technology on international relations, government, and society.
The seminar was an excellent occasion for me to frame the purpose of the research I plan during my stay in Oxford.
The majority of the attendees were social scientists. When I spoke, I focused on the different types of impacts of new technologies that one can envision, while explaining the foresight approach we are using at the European Parliament. I emphasised that not only intended & unintended impacts are possible, and highlighted the possible ‘hard & soft impacts‘ of techno-scientific developments.
Discussant Lucas Kello raised several related and complementary elements which fed into the debate: the pressure of policymaking with often a lack of sufficient time for reflection; the link between technical issues and behavioural issues; the volatility of the scale and pace of technological change, which makes it difficult to follow and understand the various stages of technological developments and how to state a claim in cases where there is no causal link between technology and incident. Further, he also shared worries about ‘information security’ in the context of today’s and tomorrow’s cyberspace.
The rich debate following our talks raised many issues which I can integrate into my research regarding dealing with evidence in a policy context.
The participants were colleagues from various colleges and departments, as well as students. And I had the special pleasure of welcoming Jamie Tarlton, former trainee in our Scientific Foresight Service, working towards his PhD degree in Oxford.
And finally, in accordance with the great traditions of the College, the event was followed by a High Table dinner.
Another ESC seminar: ‘European democracy: one project or many?’
The keynote speaker at this seminar was Professor Martin Conway, Professor of Modern European History, Balliol College, one of the oldest colleges in Oxford. The event was chaired by Dr Paola Mattei (European Studies Centre – St Antony’s College). Professor Conway reflected on different forms of democracy and citizenships, diverse social classes, and the ‘marriage’ between democracy and nation/state power. He described democracy in various contexts.