Participants from 16 countries met in Ålesund to share experiences about current technology projects and issues. The occasion was a meeting in EPTA – European Parliamentary Technology Assessment Network, where the Norwegian Board of Technology (NBT) has the presidency this year. The network consists of organisations that advice their respective Parliaments on important technological issues.
The most important technology trends
An important goal for the meeting in Ålesund was to learn from each other. Several ongoing or newly finished projects were presented:
Frans Brom from the Netherlands presented a new report on intimate technology, which takes a look at how fitness bands, Big Data, Facebook, cochlea-implants and smart watches are closing more and more in on us, and what the consequences of this might be. NBT has recently contributed to the debate on intimate technology with a column in the newspaper Dagens Næringsliv, which refers to the Dutch report.
Timothy M. Persons from the American Congress’s General Accountability Office (GAO) said that their recent expert report considers nano manufacturing a global megatrend which can become as big as, or even bigger than, the digital revolution. NBT has written a news article on this report.
Persons also talked about the GAO’s effort on Big Data, and how in auditing one can scan large amounts of data to locate potential risks for errors and corruption in order to choose what should be investigated more closely. The English Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) have conducted a comprehensive project on social media and big data in connection with elections and polls, commercial use and security, and taken a closer look at what this could mean for privacy issues. POST is also planning a new, large project on Big Data.
French Member of Parliament Anne-Yvonne le Dain presented the tentative results from a project on digital risk which the French Office parlementaire d’évaluation des choix scientifiques et technologiques (OPECST) are working on. The report will be made public in autumn.
The German “Energiewende” is an ambitious political initiative on renewable energy, especially electricity, said Reinhard Grünwald. The goal is that the total energy consumption should be reduced, while the relative share of renewable energy should increase. Nuclear power should be phased out within 2022. The German Bundestag’s Büro für Technikfolgen-Abschätzung beim Deutschen Bundestag (TAB) has been working with energy technology for a number of years, and are currently working with one project on modern power grids, and one on nuclear power.
Tore Tennøe presented the NBT’s work on technology in the police force. We will shortly be launching the first of three reports which discuss how the police can benefit from the information- and technology revolution, all the while use is being weighed against openness and privacy.
– “The technological development which will be decisive for our society in the future, is largely happening outside Norwegian borders. We are not alone in meeting these challenges, and it is useful to meet to learn about which issues our colleagues in Europe and the US are most concerned with and how they are handling them” says Tore Tennøe, Director of the NBT.
Entrepreneurship in western Norway and global expertise
The delegation visited the Norwegian Maritime Competence Center in Ålesund. The experts were presented to high-level competence in maritime and marine technology R&D.
– “The coupling of research and entrepreneurship being achieved here, is very exciting. For NBT, which for some time has worked with drones (UAVs), it was especially interesting to hear about how Rolls-Royce are envisioning a future with unmanned ships” says Tennøe.
The participants also got to try the very advanced and life-like simulators being used to train offshore workers in emergency management and malfunctions during extreme weather conditions. More than one person felt as if deck was rocking on the bridge in the simulator, even though the only thing moving was the horizon on the 360 degrees monitor surrounding them.