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What if mini-brains could help us understand dementia?

05-12-2017

Organoids are artificially grown organs that mimic the properties of real organs. What new possibilities for treating diseases, drug development, and personalised and regenerative medicine do organoids provide?

Organoids are artificially grown organs that mimic the properties of real organs. What new possibilities for treating diseases, drug development, and personalised and regenerative medicine do organoids provide?

What if technology helped society become more inclusive?

28-06-2017

There are already many ‘assistive technologies’ available, which can help people with disabilities participate more fully in society. More advanced assistive technologies are under development, but is technology the key to a more inclusive society?

There are already many ‘assistive technologies’ available, which can help people with disabilities participate more fully in society. More advanced assistive technologies are under development, but is technology the key to a more inclusive society?

What if blockchain changed social values?

10-05-2017

Blockchain technology could shake up many aspects of our daily lives, from the currency we use to the purchases we make. But what is the impact on our social values, and what can policy-makers do about it?

Blockchain technology could shake up many aspects of our daily lives, from the currency we use to the purchases we make. But what is the impact on our social values, and what can policy-makers do about it?

What if electric cars became an affordable and convenient way to travel?

07-12-2016

Are electric cars on the verge of becoming the norm, should we encourage this transition, and what would be the consequences for the environment, the automobile industry and our electricity grid? Over the past century, cars have become an integral part of our society. They generally offer greater flexibility than alternative modes of transport, and they are affordable to a large proportion of people. Ever since cars were first mass-produced, they have almost exclusively been powered by ICEs (internal ...

Are electric cars on the verge of becoming the norm, should we encourage this transition, and what would be the consequences for the environment, the automobile industry and our electricity grid? Over the past century, cars have become an integral part of our society. They generally offer greater flexibility than alternative modes of transport, and they are affordable to a large proportion of people. Ever since cars were first mass-produced, they have almost exclusively been powered by ICEs (internal combustion engines), which burn fossil fuels, such as petrol and diesel, to provide the energy required to turn the cars’ wheels and perform auxiliary tasks. However, in recent years concerns about climate change and dependence on oil have led to a great deal of effort and attention being invested in developing alternative ways of providing this energy.

Developing health technology assessment in the European Union

20-10-2016

Health Technology Assessment (HTA) is a research-based tool to support decision-making in healthcare. HTA assesses the added value of new health technologies – medicines, medical devices and diagnostic tools, surgical procedures as well as measures for disease prevention, diagnosis or treatment – over existing ones. HTA is used with a view to improving the quality and efficiency of public health interventions and the sustainability of healthcare systems. It has been growing in importance, given rising ...

Health Technology Assessment (HTA) is a research-based tool to support decision-making in healthcare. HTA assesses the added value of new health technologies – medicines, medical devices and diagnostic tools, surgical procedures as well as measures for disease prevention, diagnosis or treatment – over existing ones. HTA is used with a view to improving the quality and efficiency of public health interventions and the sustainability of healthcare systems. It has been growing in importance, given rising demand for healthcare and economic pressures. HTA in the EU involves multiple national and regional players. European HTA cooperation consists of a strategic level (HTA Network) and a scientific and technical level (EUnetHTA Joint Action). Efforts to advance certain aspects of voluntary cooperation on HTA are gaining momentum. Industry and non-industry stakeholders, as well as academia, generally agree on the benefit of stepping up EU cooperation on HTA. Members of the European Parliament have regularly asked for enhanced EU-level cooperation. The European Commission has recently published an inception impact assessment for an initiative on HTA, planned for the fourth quarter of 2017. It will be preceded by a public stakeholder consultation due to be launched in autumn 2016.

Ethical Aspects of Cyber-Physical Systems

28-06-2016

Cyber-physical systems (CPS) are intelligent robotics systems, linked with the Internet of Things, or technical systems of networked computers, robots and artificial intelligence that interact with the physical world.The project 'Ethical aspects of CPS' aims to provide insights into the potential ethical concerns and related unintended impacts of the possible evolution of CPS technology by 2050. The overarching purpose is to support the European Parliament, the parliamentary bodies, and the individual ...

Cyber-physical systems (CPS) are intelligent robotics systems, linked with the Internet of Things, or technical systems of networked computers, robots and artificial intelligence that interact with the physical world.The project 'Ethical aspects of CPS' aims to provide insights into the potential ethical concerns and related unintended impacts of the possible evolution of CPS technology by 2050. The overarching purpose is to support the European Parliament, the parliamentary bodies, and the individual Members in their anticipation of possible future concerns regarding developments in CPS, robotics and artificial intelligence.The Scientific Foresight study was conducted in three phases:1. A 'technical horizon scan', in the form of briefing papers describing the technical trends and their possible societal, ethical, economic, environmental, political/legal and demographic impacts, and this in seven application domains. 2. The 'soft impact and scenario phase', which analysed soft impacts of CPS, on the basis of the technical horizon scan, for pointing out possible future public concerns via an envisioning exercise and using exploratory scenarios.3. The 'legal backcasting' phase, which resulted in a briefing for the European Parliament identifying the legal instruments that may need to be modified or reviewed, including — where appropriate — areas identified for anticipatory parliamentary work, in accordance with the conclusions reached within the project.The outcome of the study is a policy briefing for MEPs describing legal instruments to anticipate impacts of future developments in the area of cyber-physical systems, such as intelligent robotics systems, linked with the Internet of Things. It is important to note that not all impacts of CPS are easily translated into legislation, as it is often contested whether they are in effect harmful, who is to be held accountable, and to what extent these impacts constitute a public rather than a private concern.

What if we could make ourselves invisible to others?

21-06-2016

Through developments in the field of metamaterials, we may be able to create products with surprising capabilities, from making DNA visible to making buildings invisible, but have we considered the risks, as well as the benefits?

Through developments in the field of metamaterials, we may be able to create products with surprising capabilities, from making DNA visible to making buildings invisible, but have we considered the risks, as well as the benefits?

What if others could read your mind?

08-04-2016

Brain-computer interface technology has been advancing rapidly and will continue to do so as our knowledge of how the brain works increases. Could this transform our understanding of life as we know it? A brain-computer interface (BCI) is a direct communication pathway between the brain and an external device. This technology can be used to restore motor and sensory capacities which may have been lost through trauma, disease or congenital conditions. For example, combined with limb-replacement ...

Brain-computer interface technology has been advancing rapidly and will continue to do so as our knowledge of how the brain works increases. Could this transform our understanding of life as we know it? A brain-computer interface (BCI) is a direct communication pathway between the brain and an external device. This technology can be used to restore motor and sensory capacities which may have been lost through trauma, disease or congenital conditions. For example, combined with limb-replacement technology, BCI may allow patients not only to move prosthetic limbs, but also to feel the sensation of touch. The technology can either be implanted (invasive) or used externally (non-invasive). Invasive BCIs, including neuroprosthetics and brain implants, are devices which connect directly to the brain and are placed on its surface or attached to the cortex. A key application area for contemporary brain implant research is the development of biomedical prostheses to circumvent areas of the brain that have become dysfunctional after a stroke or other trauma. With deep brain stimulation, a 'brain pacemaker' sends electrical impulses to specific parts of the brain for the treatment of disorders such as Parkinson's disease, dystonia and major depression. Non-invasive BCIs consist of a range of technological devices which provide a similar interface between the brain and other machines without the need for surgery. There are several technologies capable of measuring and recording brain activity, although the signal quality may be weaker than is possible with implanted devices. Nonetheless, non-invasive BCIs have been used effectively, for example to control prosthetic hands.

The Collaborative Economy

21-12-2015

Ever since its appearance, Internet has allowed us to collaborate with other people remotely. In the 80's, email was the breakthrough that enabled exchange of digital materials. In the 90's, the World Wide Web opened collaboration on web sites. After 2000, social media and e-meeting technologies enabled face-to-face interaction with others via the Internet. New modes of collaboration, such as crowd sourcing, crowd funding, co-creation or open design are reaching mainstream use. Advances in technologies ...

Ever since its appearance, Internet has allowed us to collaborate with other people remotely. In the 80's, email was the breakthrough that enabled exchange of digital materials. In the 90's, the World Wide Web opened collaboration on web sites. After 2000, social media and e-meeting technologies enabled face-to-face interaction with others via the Internet. New modes of collaboration, such as crowd sourcing, crowd funding, co-creation or open design are reaching mainstream use. Advances in technologies related to Collaborative Internet, Big/Open Data, Crypto Currency and Additive Manufacturing are bringing the Collaborative Economy ever closer to us. This study reveals a wide range of opportunities and threats associated with these technologies,as well as social, political, economic, moral and ethical issues related to this new way of working. Policy options are presented, in order to help policy makers anticipate developments with effective policies that will nurture the positive impacts of collaborative Internet and avoid the negative ones.

Autor externo

External authors: Steve Robertshaw (editor), Nick Achilleopoulos, Johan E. Bengtsson, Patrick Crehan, Angele Giuliano, John Soldatos (AcrossLimits Ltd, Malta)

What if injections weren't needed anymore?

26-11-2015

Synthetic biology is expected to design, construct and develop artificial (i.e. man-made) biological systems that mimic or even go beyond naturally-occurring biological systems. What are the benefits of this emerging field? Are there any ethical and social issues arising from this engineering approach to biology?

Synthetic biology is expected to design, construct and develop artificial (i.e. man-made) biological systems that mimic or even go beyond naturally-occurring biological systems. What are the benefits of this emerging field? Are there any ethical and social issues arising from this engineering approach to biology?

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