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Digital World in 2030: Towards the Age of Individual Empowerment?

The event Digital World in 2030: Toward the Age of Individual Empowerment? took place on Tuesday, 27 November 2012 at the European Parliament in Brussels. It was organised by the EIF (European Internet Foundation) and facilitated by the Digital Futures project of the European Commission, DG CONNECT.

Below is a video summary of the event. 

The workshop was hosted by James Elles MEP and the EIF Co-founders, and Robert Madelin, Director-General of DG CONNECT, the European Commission. The event included around 100 participants working together for three hours to co-create long term visions to be adopted as teasers for future debates on ICT-related policies.

The approach used to harness the collective creativity of the participants is known as The Art of Participatory Leadership, a well-known set of brainstorming techniques that is part of the internal training formats within the European Commission. Most of the participants who acted as facilitators and content harvester were officials trained with the AOPL.

After the welcome and scene-setting by MEP James Elles, Robert Madelin introduced the Digital Futures project, its policy making 3.0 model and its online lab: the Futurium.

The participants then broke out into several tables to brainstorm on the futures they envisage for 2050, the related challenges and opportunities, as well as the underpinning drivers and trends. Tables were grouped around three main themes, each of which addressing a number of key topics:

  1. Economic transformation through individual empowerment.  Focus include: the future of employment, the organisation of industrial output & wealth-creation, consumer behaviour, sustainability (e.g. climate change; energy consumption, resource efficiency), stability vs. dynamism: how much disruption can our economies manage?
  2. Social and political transformation through individual empowerment.  Focus include: the sustainability of the western welfare-state, the future of education, personal identity, can democracy survive the democratisation of technology?, the future anatomy of political power and leadership.
  3. Technology: will digital technologies reinforce individual empowerment in the decades to come? Focus include: human interfaces (including corporal embedding), man-machine interaction, mobility / remote access & control (cloud), data cumulation & data mining, personal security vs. personal freedom.

Key messages emerging from the group reflections include:

  • 1. An overall positive view of the future, albeit with certain anxieties and concerns.
  • 2. The resilience and robustness of human beings shines through, as a key factor for survival. Underpinning the discussions is a focus on values.
  • 3. We care about the planet, about energy and about sustainability.
  • 4. There is a trend towards connectedness and interconnectivity in which it is possible that "we are all going to be connected, whatever": perhaps ultimately a blurring of human beings and machines, bringing about a new form of collective consciousness.
  • 5. Nevertheless, there is a sense of capability and capacity, responsibility and collective ownership in which we can make choices. Perhaps we need a form of charter to help us with that?

The day after the event a group of 15 knowledge harvesters took the mindmaps and notes harvested on-site and elaborated twelve futures, visions or trends, reflecting the amazing ideas emerged from the group. They are listed hereafter.

If you want to contribute to the further development of those futures as well as engage more thinkers and multipliers in the Futurium journey, you can do so on the Futurium.

Date & Time: 
Tuesday, 27 November, 2012 - 17:00 to 20:30
Event Type: 
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