Studies and Options Briefs

 
171 results
 
What if mini-brains could help us understand dementia?12-2017
Reference
Summary

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?

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At a glance : What if mini-brains could help us understand dementia?
Precision agriculture in Europe:Legal, social and ethical considerations11-2017
Reference
Summary

The aim of this study is to illustrate the different ways in which the current EU legislative framework may be affected by the digitisation and automation of farming activities and the respective technological trends. The study analyses the issues that might have to be dealt with, identifying the European Parliament committees concerned and the legislative acts that might need to be revisited, especially in view of the forthcoming Commission communication on the future of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). It also provides a series of overarching recommendations that EU actors may wish to take into account when dealing with precision agriculture. To do so, an analysis of the multiple ethical and legal challenges associated with precision farming technologies has been performed, along with a scanning of current legislation in a wide range of areas of EU policy-making, including agricultural policy and related fields, such as environment, health, food safety and climate change.

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Study : Precision agriculture in Europe:Legal, social and ethical considerations
What if we could 3D-print our own body parts11-2017
Reference
Summary

The 3D-printing sector has proven its commercial viability in recent years, reaching the high street and, indeed, many homes. The technology is already used in some medical domains, such as dentistry and prosthetics, and many scientists are now exploring methods of printing biological materials – even if reports about lifesaving 3D-printed hearts are certainly premature.

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At a glance : What if we could 3D-print our own body parts
Towards a circular economy-Waste management in the EU09-2017
Reference
Author

EPRS, DG

Summary

A general conclusion cited in research is that much of the EU policy on waste centres on the diversion of waste from landfill to incineration or recycling. As such, it is very much an end-of-life disposal perspective (waste as a problem). The goal of a circular economy is to create value-added from waste (waste as a resource). It therefore aims to separate waste into high quality waste streams for re-use, recovery and recycling. This transition will require the active cooperation of waste industries with businesses engaged in the circular economy. It will also mean that more attention to end-of-life recovery options are needed as early as the design phase.

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Study : Towards a circular economy-Waste management in the EU
Annex 1: Towards a circular economy-Waste management in the EU
What if manmade biological organisms could help treat cancer?09-2017
Reference
Summary

Synthetic biology is expected to begin to design, construct and develop artificial (i.e. man-made) biological systems that mimic or even go beyond naturally occurring biological systems. Applications of synthetic biology in the healthcare domain hold great promise, but also raise a number of questions. What are the benefits and challenges of this emerging field? What ethical and social issues arise from this engineering approach to biology?

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At a glance : What if manmade biological organisms could help treat cancer?
Forward-looking policy-making at the European Parliament through scientific foresight08-2017
Reference
Summary

The European Parliament's Science and Technology Options Assessment (STOA) Panel, supported by the Scientific Foresight Unit (STOA), decided two years ago to experiment with a process involving scenario development and assessment to explore possible future techno-scientific developments and their potential impacts, while backcasting possible future opportunities and concerns to options available to policy-makers today. This was achieved with the involvement of experts from a variety of backgrounds, together with stakeholders, using a multi-perspective approach. In this setting, various types of possible impacts are explored, which provide the foundations for imagined exploratory scenarios. From these scenarios we can learn about the possible challenges and opportunities arising from them. By communicating these challenges and opportunities to the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), together with related legal and ethical reflections, the MEPs are provided with potential insights into how to anticipate future policy issues. The MEPs might thus be able to identify options for working towards the most desirable futures and avoiding undesirable futures, and even for anticipating undesirable scenarios. Therefore, foresight-based policy preparation can help the European Parliament stay well prepared for what might lie ahead, allowing informed, anticipatory action.

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Briefing : Forward-looking policy-making at the European Parliament through scientific foresight
Ten more technologies which could change our lives07-2017
Reference
Summary

In 2015, the European Parliament's Directorate-General for Parliamentary Research Services (DG EPRS) broke new ground with its publication 'Ten technologies which could change our lives – potential impacts and policy implications', with each chapter highlighting a particular technology, its promises and potential negative consequences, and the role that the European Parliament could and should play in shaping these developments. This new study continues this work, presenting ten additional technologies that will increasingly require the attention of policy-makers. The topics for the current study have been chosen to reflect the wide range of topics that the Parliament's Science and Technology Options Assessment (STOA) Panel has decided to focus upon for the eighth parliamentary term (2014-2019). The aim of the publication is not only to draw attention to these ten particular technologies, but also to promote further reflection about other technological developments that may still be at an early stage but that could, in a similar way, massively impact our lives in the short- or longer-term future.

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In-Depth Analysis : Ten more technologies which could change our lives
Horizon scanning and analysis of techno-scientific trends: Scientific Foresight Study07-2017
Reference
Author

Michael Baumgartner, Bijan Farsijani (Augmented Intelligence Institute; http://www.augmento.ai)

Summary

This horizon scan has identified eight major technological trends relevant for STOA. First, a scan was conducted to measure controversy on social media, and this constituted an initial controversy ranking. After more detailed analysis of the main technology trends identified, a set of STOA-relevant areas were selected, which have not yet been investigated by STOA so far. These are big data, gene technology, electric vehicles, autonomous cars and impact of algorithms. A number of additional trend areas with high potential impact on society were identified for analysis: screen addiction, fake news and bioterrorism. Within the eight topics selected for detailed analysis from the initial horizon scanning process, keywords, subtopics, and sentiments have been detected and analysed from social media and news articles. These eight technologies are areas for discussion amongst the STOA Panel members when considering new project activities to be undertaken.

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Study : Horizon scanning and analysis of techno-scientific trends: Scientific Foresight Study
Science and Technology Options Assessment: Annual Report 201607-2017
Reference
Summary

In 2016, the STOA Panel launched a total of seven new technology assessment projects on a variety of areas of technological and social importance, including decarbonisation and energy resilience in the EU; the sources and instruments for financing new transport infrastructure projects; language equality in the digital age: towards a Human Language Project; additive bio-manufacturing: 3D printing for medical recovery and human enhancement; how to overcome the innovation gap in Europe: structural shortcomings in the EU-13 and recommendations for a better performance in Horizon 2020; and technology options and systems to strengthen participatory and direct democracy. The year 2016 also featured completion of the first two scientific foresight projects, one focused on the ‘ethics of cyber-physical systems’ and one on ‘precision agriculture and the future of farming in Europe’. It should be noted that the former provided input to the EP resolution of 16 February 2017 with recommendations to the Commission on ‘Civil Law Rules’ on Robotics (2015/2103(INL)). The foresight project on Precision Agriculture is expected to inform the debate on the simplification and modernisation of the Common Agricultural Policy. In parallel with these activities, 17 workshops and conferences were held, either as part of projects or as ad hoc events on the request of the Panel. These events focused on a wide range of areas of technological and scientific interest, including, among others, earthquakes, quantum technologies, waste management, human enhancement, investing in health in low and middle-income countries, solving antibiotic resistance, paediatric research in Europe, food-related health risks and technologies to increase food safety, vaccine research and development (R&D) in Europe, and the effects of the development of digital technology upon the labour market. The 15th edition of the STOA Annual Lecture, 'Towards a space-enabled future for Europe', was held on 16 November 2016. STOA welcomed Sir Martin Sweeting, Founder and Executive Chairman of Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) and Director of the Surrey Space Centre; Ariane Cornell of Blue Origin Business Development and Strategy; Johannes Von Thadden, Head of Institutional Relations, Airbus Defence and Space; Thomas Pesquet, a European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut of French nationality; and Reinhold Ewald, an ESA astronaut of German nationality, to discuss the challenges and opportunities offered by space science and research and the future of the European space sector. The lecture was chaired and moderated by Paul Rübig, STOA Chair. The event was co-organised with ESA, whose Director General, Johann-Dietrich Woerner, also addressed the audience. In addition to project reports, STOA increased its online presence through the EPRS blog and use of social media, including through the live tweeting of all its events. 2016 also saw the fifth round of the MEP-Scientist Pairing Scheme, with 16 scientists selected and matched with Members. STOA maintained and developed its links with the wider communities and networks of key actors in science and technology (S&T) policy. This included STOA delegations participating in the annual Council meeting and Conference of the European Parliamentary Technology Assessment (EPTA) network in Vienna and the meeting of the Science and Technology in Society (STS) forum in Kyoto. Delegations from the STOA Panel also attended the EuroScience Open Forum (ESOF) in Manchester and INNOVEIT (EIT Innovation Forum) in Budapest, and visited the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre in Ispra and the European Environment Agency (EEA) in Copenhagen. Last but not least, a STOA delegation made a visit to Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C.

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Miscellaneous documents : Science and Technology Options Assessment: Annual Report 2016
What if technology helped society become more inclusive?06-2017
Reference
Summary

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?

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At a glance : What if technology helped society become more inclusive?
 
 
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