Месечни архиви: August 2016

Reform of the Dublin system [EU Legislation in Progress]

Written by Detelin Ivanov (1st edition),

Asylum system in Europe

© kamasigns / Fotolia

The refugee and migrant crisis in Europe has exposed the need for reform of the Common European Asylum System, in general, and of the Dublin rules, in particular. The Commission’s proposal of 4 May 2016 to reform the Dublin system does not change the existing criteria for determining which Member State is responsible for examining an asylum application.

Instead of a fundamental overhaul of the Dublin regime, as suggested by the Parliament, the Commission proposes to streamline and supplement the current rules with a corrective allocation mechanism. This mechanism would be triggered automatically were a Member State to be faced with disproportionate numbers of asylum-seekers. If a Member State decided not to accept the allocation of asylum-seekers from a Member State under pressure, a ‘solidarity contribution’ of €250 000 per applicant would have to be made instead.

Versions

Stage: National Parliaments

 

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2016/08/31/reform-of-the-dublin-system-eu-legislation-in-progress/

How will robotic applications in the energy grid change our lives?

Written by Lieve Van Woensel with Brian Kelly

Today, more and more services and applications are functioning based on interconnected computers and robots interacting with the physical world. These are known as Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS). A recently-published study on the Ethics of Cyber-Physical Systems for the Science and Technology Options Assessment (STOA) Panel examines seven key areas where Cyber-Physical Systems will have a significant impact. This blog post summarises the use of CPS in the area of energy and the impacts this may have.

What changes are we going to see in energy systems?

Modern digital Tablet PC with Smart House Apps

monicaodo / Fotolia

CPS in energy and critical infrastructures will result in major changes to the way we produce, consume and monitor energy. They will result in a much more dynamic energy grid, with the uptake and use of demand and supply management systems. With the grid becoming more dynamic, the uptake of renewable energy is made easier and more efficient through the use of smart meters, which provide for a real-time analysis of energy use. Along with smart meters, CPS will allow for the increased use of electricity storage to offset the intermittent nature of renewable energy. These developments, taken together, are referred to as the ‘internet of energy’. They will result in major shifts in our energy network, including the rise of ‘virtual power plants’ (VPP), entailing the need to examine the coming changes and their impacts on society.

How will the changes impact society?

The changes in the energy system resulting from CPS will have major impacts on our society. One such impact is that, overall, CPS acts as an enabler, giving individuals greater power and control over their energy usage. CPS will make it possible for energy users to be much more conscious of their consumption, allowing them to make real-time decisions to lower their energy use, thus helping to relieve the burden on the energy grid and decrease environmental impacts.

How will this affect privacy?

These changes are not without risks or concerns, however. One major concern arising from the increased use of CPS is that, as almost every activity undertaken in today’s society requires us to use energy, an individual’s privacy will be at much greater risk. One such example is that it has been shown that which movie someone is watching can be identified by analysing the power consumption pattern on the television. Will consumers have access to all their personal data or the ability to control who views them? Will business be able to sell the data for commercial purposes? What level of detail should be preserved in order to ensure privacy, while still allowing the data to be usable for scientific analysis? These concerns will need to be addressed as CPS continue to be implemented in the energy sector.

What next?

CPS will very likely be part of the critical infrastructure behind future energy systems and there are many expected benefits from the development of these technologies. However, there are still major concerns within these systems and ethical questions which cannot be ignored. The introduction and implementation of CPS in energy systems should lead to an overall benefit to society, and more efficient energy grids. However, this will require changes in legislation to account for the risks that the CPS pose in terms of liability, data collection and ownership.

For more information about CPS check out this STOA video.

 


This blog post was prepared using information from technical briefing papers written for the ‘Ethics of Cyber-Physical Systems’ study by Stamatis Karnouskos (SAP, Karslruhe, Germany) and Joost van Barneveld (Technopolis Group, The Netherlands).

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2016/08/30/how-will-robotic-applications-in-the-energy-grid-change-our-lives/

International day against nuclear tests

Written by Beatrix Immenkamp,

Nuclear power and radiation forbidden

© Dmitri Stalnuhhin/ Fotolia

In December 2009, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously declared 29 August the International Day against Nuclear Tests. This day marks both the closure, in 1991, of the former Soviet Semipalatinsk Test Site in modern-day Kazakhstan and the date of the first Soviet nuclear test conducted there in 1949.

Nuclear weapons testing began in the mid-twentieth century. The first test took place on 16 July 1945; since then, an estimated 2 000 nuclear tests have been carried out around the world. The disastrous effects of nuclear testing on human health and the environment only emerged over time and gave rise to joint efforts to prevent further nuclear weapons testing. The international instrument to put an end to all forms of nuclear testing is the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT)

The CTBT is a multilateral treaty by which states agree to ban all nuclear explosions in all environments, for military or civilian purposes. It was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 September 1996, and opened for signature in New York on 24 September 1996. 20 years later, the CTBT has not yet come into force.

Of the 183 states that have become members of the CTBT, 164 states have ratified the Treaty, whereas 19 states have merely signed it. Some 13 states have not yet acceded to the Treaty at all, including, India, North Korea, and Pakistan. The CTBT has not yet entered into force, pending ratification by the remaining eight states (out of a total of 44) that possess nuclear reactors and research reactors listed in Annex 2 to the Treaty. In addition to India, North Korea, and Pakistan, these remaining states include China, Egypt, Iran, Israel and the United States of America.

Nuclear testing essentially ended with the adoption of the CTBT in 1996. The small number of nuclear tests conducted after 1996 (by India, Pakistan and most recently the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea – DPRK) were universally condemned and led to the imposition of sanctions.

The Treaty establishes a CTBT Organisation (CTBTO), located in Vienna, to ensure the implementation of its provisions, which include international verification measures. The CTBT verification regime is designed to detect any nuclear explosion conducted on Earth – underground, underwater or in the atmosphere.

The CTBTO comprises two organs, the Provisional Technical Secretariat and the Preparatory Commission:

  • Provisional Technical Secretariat (PTS): The PTS began its work in 1997 and has an international staff of approximately 270 members from 70 countries. The PTS cooperates with the host countries in the development and running of the international monitoring system.
  • Preparatory Commission: The main task of the Preparatory Commission is to establish a global verification regime as foreseen in the CTBT, aiming at being operational by the time the Treaty enters into force. The International Monitoring System will comprise 321 monitoring stations and 16 laboratories, which will monitor the planet for any sign of a nuclear explosion. The international monitoring system is 85% installed, and a large number of stations are already transmitting data to the International Data Center (IDC) in Vienna via satellite-based global communications infrastructure.

The global non-proliferation and disarmament regime

The CTBT forms part of the global non-proliferation and disarmament regime built around the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), including the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), five Treaties establishing Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones, the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, UN Security Council Resolution 1540, the Convention on Nuclear Safety, the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management and a number of informal and/or voluntary initiatives.

The EU position on the CTBT

According to the Working paper submitted by the EU to the Fifth NPT Review Conference in 2015, the EU considers the CTBT ‘to be of crucial importance to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. Its entry into force remains a top priority for the European Union’. The EU seeks to use every opportunity to advocate CTBT ratification in international fora and meetings with countries that have not yet signed or ratified the Treaty. The EU has also carried out CTBT outreach activities in different regions of the world. The EU’s political efforts are complemented by financial commitments to support the CTBTO, amounting to €15.5 million between 2006 and 2015, placing the EU among the most important financial contributors to the CTBTO. The Council adopted a Decision on 12 October 2015 to make an additional €3 million available to support the activities of the Preparatory Commission of the CTBTO in order to strengthen its monitoring and verification capabilities.

Debate in the European Parliament

To mark the 20th anniversary of the CTBT, Members of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament exchanged views with Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, and Lassina Zerbo, Executive Secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization, on 7 July 2016. There was consensus that renewed effort is needed to ensure the entry into force of the Treaty, through ratification by the remaining Annex 2 States.

Further EPRS Publications

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2016/08/29/international-day-against-nuclear-tests/

Robotic applications will bring about major changes in healthcare

Written by Lieve Van Woensel with Sarah McCormack,

The use of Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS) in healthcare is ever increasing, and we have to examine what impact they will have on the lives of citizens, especially those of patients, disabled and elderly citizens. CPS are technical systems where networked computers and robots interact with the physical world. A study on the Ethics of Cyber-Physical Systems has recently been published by the Science and Technology Options Assessment (STOA) Panel. This study examines seven key areas, where Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS) will have a significant impact.

What changes are we going to see in healthcare?

Image copyright: Shutterstock/koya979

Image copyright: Shutterstock/koya979

CPS can be used in healthcare in the form of smart devices and alarms. These can provide medical professionals with accurate real-time information regarding the health of a patient. An example of CPS used in healthcare is insulin pumps. These provide people suffering from diabetes with doses of insulin as required, to help keep their blood glucose continuously at a stable level. Another benefit from the use of CPS in healthcare will be a reduction in patient recovery times, due to the use of robots to perform surgery. Robots can perform surgery with increased precision, which leads to less invasive operations with fewer medical errors, and resulting in quicker recovery times. CPS will not only help the disabled and elderly through their ability to reduce recovery times, but their application in smart homes (which use a variety of sensors) will make it possible for medical professionals to collect real-time data on residents. This increased data flow will, through the use of data-mining tools, provide better care, insights into treatment, rehabilitation options and diagnosis. CPS can also improve home care, resulting in disabled and elderly citizens being able to stay longer at home. Intelligent prostheses will also help the disabled by measuring and converting brain signals into a physical action by the prosthesis, so that the person can interact with the physical environment.

Who will be responsible if something goes wrong?

In the future, robotic autonomy will further increase. This will allow robots to act more independently, make decisions and suggest evidence-based treatment. However, with this increased autonomy we will need to examine what power the robots will have in decision-making. Should they be able to make a decision on behalf of the patients, or allow the patients to make their own choice, even if it results in a negative health outcome? Is it the responsibility of the robots to inform medical professionals in this situation, or should they simply be allowed to override a patient’s wishes? With increased robot autonomy, we will need to explore who should be responsible if the action taken results in harm to a patient. Is the producer, programmer, medical professional or patient responsible? It is evident that these systems will bring new challenges for the healthcare sector to address, so that we can trust CPS to ensure that the correct decision is made.

What will happen to doctor-patient relations and confidentiality?

In a healthcare system where CPS are integrated, will medical professional secrecy still exist? As the data gathered by CPS are of particular interest to pharmaceutical and health insurance companies, how can we be certain that patient data will not be shared with or sold to them? Should anonymised data be gathered to develop improved medical treatments to help other patients? What will happen if the system is hacked and data become compromised? With the increased collection of data, we will need to place more trust in these systems. Trust is an important factor when considering CPS in healthcare. We will need to establish whether people will want CPS to partly replace the patient-doctor care relationship and be treated by robots. Will the elderly and disabled individuals trust CPS to assist them daily? It is vital that CPS support physicians and do not threaten the trust which exists between doctors and patients. However, we must ask ourselves, should certain types of care still be undertaken by humans, even when there are robotic options available?

What next?

CPS are here to stay, and there are many expected benefits from the development of these technologies in relation to healthcare and the lives of patients, including disabled and elderly citizens. Nevertheless, we cannot ignore the concerns about these systems and the ethical questions they raise. With the increased use of CPS in healthcare, we can expect to witness changes in this sector. It is evident that the development of these systems will require changes in legislation to take into account the risks that these systems pose in terms of data protection and liability to ensure that patients benefit from healthcare with integrated CPS.

For more information about CPS check out this STOA video.

 


This blog post was prepared using information from technical briefing papers written for the ‘Ethics of Cyber-Physical Systems’ study by Professor Adriana Tapus (ENSTA-ParisTech, France), Professor Bram Vanderborght (Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium) and Chiel Scholte (Technopolis Group, The Netherlands).

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2016/08/26/robotic-applications-will-bring-about-major-changes-in-healthcare/

Will robots change the face of agriculture and food production?

Drone above the agricultural field

Shutterstock / Kletr

Written by Lieve Van Woensel with Sarah McCormack,

A study on the ‘Ethics of Cyber-Physical Systems’ has recently been published by the Science and Technology Options Assessment (STOA) Panel. The study examined seven key areas, where cyber-physical systems (CPS) will have a significant impact. CPS are technical systems where networked computers and robots interact with the physical world. They are found in a wide range of services and applications. As their applications are also increasing in the area of agriculture and food production, due to the continuous development of these technologies, we have to examine what impact they will have. This blog post was prepared using information from a technical briefing paper written for the study by Professor Eldert J. van Henten (Wageningen University, The Netherlands) and Christien Enzing (Technopolis Group, The Netherlands).

How will robots change agriculture and food production?

Things will certainly change with the further introduction of CPS in these fields. Better sensors will increase safety in food production. This will be through their ability to more accurately test for diseases and the freshness of products. Using CPS to better test the food for possible issues will help to minimise risks for consumers. The increased use of autonomous machines in food production will also reduce the risk of contamination from humans, thus increasing the safety of the products. With the future introduction of robots in agriculture we may also see a change in the relationship between farmers and their animals. If robots keep replacing humans, as we have seen through the introduction of milking machines, what impact will this have on the ethics of livestock husbandry?

How will this impact the environment?

Through increased use of CPS in agriculture, we can expect to see a change in the environment for the better. CPS will be able to reduce the sheer size of the machines that are currently used in agriculture, leading to more lightweight machines. This in turn will help to stop the soil compaction which is currently exacerbated by the use of existing machines. Precision farming will also benefit from the use of vital data gathered by CPS, such as drones, sensors and other farming machines. Drones for example can be used to check the health of plants, which will lead to targeted insecticide use. CPS will further help the environment through the reduction of energy, water and fertiliser usage, helping to reduce emissions.

How will this affect jobs?

CPS will also make many tasks less dangerous and unhealthy, and will improve the overall safety of workers. Currently we are witnessing a large decline in the number of people, in particular youths, involved in agriculture. Since 1990 in the Netherlands, for example, the percentage of people employed in agriculture has plummeted from 30% to 2.6%. The introduction of these systems may help to attract young people back into the sector by improving the daily life quality. Job loses, however, will inevitably occur with the further implementation of CPS in agriculture, as they replace low and semi-skilled labour. CPS will be able to effectively replace their human counterparts. Yet, despite this, it is expected that an equal number of new roles, requiring different skills, will emerge, such as agricultural robot engineers.

Who will be responsible for safety and what impact will there be on privacy?

With the introduction of more autonomous machines working alongside humans, we need to keep in mind that questions of responsibility will arise. In agriculture, if harm comes to animals, plants or even humans, as a result of CPS, who will be at fault and who will be held accountable? How can we keep individuals safe around these automated machines? Also the introduction of CPS into food production can possibly manifest itself in the development of smart packaging that can communicate with your fridge, alerting you when you are running low on products. Will this infringe upon our privacy? What if the packaging starts to give you advice on your eating habits? Is this ethically correct?

What next?

We can expect to see changes to the agricultural sector over the coming years as more CPS are introduced and developed. The changes are expected to be positive and will assist rather than hinder farmers. However, we will still need to take into account the possible negative impacts and ensure that adequate legislation is introduced to protect our privacy, safety and environment to make sure that we all benefit from these new technologies.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2016/08/25/will-robots-change-the-face-of-agriculture-and-food-production/

Podcasts of June 2016: Listen again!

Written by Richard Freedman,

In the second episode of a series of podcasts on science and technology, in June 2016, we touched on the provocative topic what if our shopping was delivered by drones? With drones becoming more common place and affordable, the list of tasks they could fulfil is only getting bigger! Discover with us some of the incredible ways in which drones are overcoming their bad reputation and finding a place in our societies.

Listen to the Science and Technology topic what if our shopping was delivered by drones? [Science and Technology podcast]


The customary Plenary podcasts of June 2016 touched on EU Space Policy and The safety of nuclear installations in Belarus.

EU Space Policy

Space applications have never been so down to Earth… today, thanks to satellites orbiting thousands of kilometres above our heads, we can see when our bus will come, detect forest fires and even predict the course of a typhoon! But with an increasing number of countries getting access to space, the EU better make sure its space strategy is fit for the future! From conducting search and rescue operations to monitoring sea borders and the state of agricultural crops, it has all been made easier thanks to data from satellites. Europe’s space initiatives are helping to create new opportunities for European companies as well as making it easier to protect people. Read a glossary of terms related to the EU’s space policy.

Listen to the Plenary podcast EU Space Policy [Plenary podcast]

The safety of nuclear installations in Belarus

Set aside for decades, Belarus is about to realise its nuclear power aspirations with the help of Moscow. But Chernobyl’s painful memories and concerns over safety mean the EU will have to remain vigilant. Following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident, the European Council in March 2011 requested stress tests of all EU nuclear power plants (NPP). In this context, Belarus agreed to conduct nuclear reactor stress tests for its future NPP, using the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group model.

Listen to the Plenary podcast on The Safety of nuclear installation in Belarus [Plenary podcast]

 


The longer Policy podcasts of June 2016 highlighted Intergovernmental agreements in the field of energy and the post 2020 challenges for the EU cohesion policy.

Intergovernmental agreements in the field of energy

To ensure the smooth functioning of the EU’s internal energy market, individual EU countries negotiating energy agreements with third countries must ensure these deals comply with EU law. But in February 2016, the European Commission proposed an update to the current rules.

Listen to the Policy Podcast on Intergovernmental agreements in the field of energy [Policy podcast]

The post 2020 challenges for the EU cohesion policy

Taking over one-third of the Union’s budget, cohesion policy is one of the EU’s main investment tool, and one with one of the greatest impacts. It has helped less well-off regions catch up with the rest, create growth and jobs across Europe. But could it be more effective?

Listen to the Policy Podcast on The post 2020 challenges for the EU cohesion policy [Policy podcast]

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2016/08/24/podcasts-of-june-2016-listen-gain/

Podcasts of June 2016: Listen gain!

Written by Richard Freedman,

In the second episode of a series of podcasts on science and technology, in June 2016, we touched on the provocative topic what if our shopping was delivered by drones? With drones becoming more common place and affordable, the list of tasks they could fulfil is only getting bigger! Discover with us some of the incredible ways in which drones are overcoming their bad reputation and finding a place in our societies.

Listen to the Science and Technology topic what if our shopping was delivered by drones? [Science and Technology podcast]


The customary Plenary podcasts of June 2016 touched on EU Space Policy and The safety of nuclear installations in Belarus.

EU Space Policy

Space applications have never been so down to Earth… today, thanks to satellites orbiting thousands of kilometres above our heads, we can see when our bus will come, detect forest fires and even predict the course of a typhoon! But with an increasing number of countries getting access to space, the EU better make sure its space strategy is fit for the future! From conducting search and rescue operations to monitoring sea borders and the state of agricultural crops, it has all been made easier thanks to data from satellites. Europe’s space initiatives are helping to create new opportunities for European companies as well as making it easier to protect people. Read a glossary of terms related to the EU’s space policy.

Listen to the Plenary podcast EU Space Policy [Plenary podcast]

The safety of nuclear installations in Belarus

Set aside for decades, Belarus is about to realise its nuclear power aspirations with the help of Moscow. But Chernobyl’s painful memories and concerns over safety mean the EU will have to remain vigilant. Following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident, the European Council in March 2011 requested stress tests of all EU nuclear power plants (NPP). In this context, Belarus agreed to conduct nuclear reactor stress tests for its future NPP, using the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group model.

Listen to the Plenary podcast on The Safety of nuclear installation in Belarus [Plenary podcast]

 


The longer Policy podcasts of June 2016 highlighted Intergovernmental agreements in the field of energy and the post 2020 challenges for the EU cohesion policy.

Intergovernmental agreements in the field of energy

To ensure the smooth functioning of the EU’s internal energy market, individual EU countries negotiating energy agreements with third countries must ensure these deals comply with EU law. But in February 2016, the European Commission proposed an update to the current rules.

Listen to the Policy Podcast on Intergovernmental agreements in the field of energy [Policy podcast]

The post 2020 challenges for the EU cohesion policy

Taking over one-third of the Union’s budget, cohesion policy is one of the EU’s main investment tool, and one with one of the greatest impacts. It has helped less well-off regions catch up with the rest, create growth and jobs across Europe. But could it be more effective?

Listen to the Policy Podcast on The post 2020 challenges for the EU cohesion policy [Policy podcast]

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2016/08/24/podcasts-of-june-2016-listen-gain/

Cyber-Physical Systems and their application in modern manufacturing

Robot hand in a laboratory

Fotolia / Zoe

Written by Lieve Van Woensel with Brian Kelly,

CPS are technical systems where networked computers and robots interact with the physical world. Found in a wide range of services and applications, CPS are quickly becoming a part of modern manufacturing processes, making it necessary to examine the impacts they will have in this area.

The Science and Technology Options Assessment (STOA) Panel recently published a study on the ‘Ethics of Cyber-Physical Systems’ (CPS). The study examines seven key areas where Cyber-Physical Systems will have a significant impact, and makes use of information included in a technical briefing paper written by Professor Fred van Houten (University of Twente, The Netherlands) and Chiel Scholten, MSc (Technopolis Group, The Netherlands).

What changes are we going to see in manufacturing?

Use of CPS in manufacturing could result in massive changes to the way the manufacturing process is currently conducted, leading to a fourth industrial revolution, ‘Industry 4.0’. CPS could help manufacturing through the continuous miniaturisation of sensors and actuators, driven through current developments and advances in nanotechnology. As smart manufacturing requires massive amounts of real-time data, gathered through sensors, in order to function, the miniaturisation of sensors will help pave the way for Industry 4.0. The development of smaller sensors, combined with the new internet protocol, IPv6 developed in 2012, allows the sensors to become part of the ‘internet of things’, where everything is interconnected online – a defining feature of Industry 4.0. These changes will lead to radical new manufacturing business models, with data becoming a competitive asset, much as it is for internet firms like Google or Facebook.

What will this do to society?

CPS can contribute to the individualisation of modern society, as advances in CPS could allow for intelligent machines with machine-learning abilities. This, coupled with advances in additive manufacturing, will increasingly allow consumers to customise their products, as shown in this video. As manufacturing becomes easier and more cost-effective, we may face a rise in consumerism. Will these manufacturing developments lead to a further erosion of meaning in the consumption of goods? Will we face higher levels of consumerism than we experience today? These questions will need to be addressed as CPS continue to advance in manufacturing.

How will jobs be affected?

Changes in the field of manufacturing could lead to a major change in the jobs currently associated with manufacturing. Physical labour – and strength – may become less and less important and instead greater emphasis will be placed on an individual’s ability to utilise digital skills. In fact, by 2020, 90% of all jobs will require at least some digital skills. Less physically demanding work could give rise to healthier workers, longer life expectancy, and could increase the age range in which workers will be able to contribute in the manufacturing sector.

What next?

CPS are here to stay and there are many expected benefits from the development of these technologies in relation to manufacturing. Nevertheless, these systems still pose challenges and ethical questions, which cannot be ignored. Overall, the application of CPS in manufacturing promises major benefits to the economy and society. The development of these systems will, however, require changes in legislation to account for the risks that these systems pose, to ensure citizens remain safe and secure in a world shared with CPS.

For more information about CPS check out this STOA video.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2016/08/23/cyber-physical-systems-and-their-application-in-modern-manufacturing/

Podcasts May 2016: Listen again!

Written by Richard Freedman,

In May 2016, EPRS introduced a new series of podcasts focussing on the latest science and technology developments, looking into the impact they will have on our lives and capturing their policy implications. This complimented the two other podcast series namely Plenary and Policy podcasts.

What if others could read your mind?

In the first-ever science and technology podcast in May 2016, we examined how brain-computer interface technology is 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?

Listen to the Science and Technology What if others could read your mind? [Science and Technology podcast]


The usual Plenary podcasts focussed on the World Humanitarian Summit 2016 and Parental Leave Directive: Towards a revision?

World Humanitarian Summit 2016

The first-ever World Humanitarian Summit (WHS), on 23 and 24 May 2016 in Istanbul, Turkey brought together a panoply of representatives of world governments, business, and civil society, to find a way to improve humanitarian responses to increasingly challenging conditions. The May plenary heard from the Commission and Council on the EU approach to the WHS. Despite the highest ever humanitarian spending globally, the exponential growth of the number of people trapped in long-term crisis has deepened the funding gap. The European Parliament has stressed the urgency to reduce the gap and the need for ‘globally coordinated, timely, predictable and flexible funding’. Hence during the two-year long preparation for the World Humanitarian Summit, humanitarian financing has focused much attention.

Listen to the Plenary podcast World Humanitarian Summit 2016 [Plenary podcast]

Parental Leave Directive: Towards a revision?

In the European Union, parental leave is regulated by a 1996 Directive, last amended in 2013. Implementation of this Directive varies greatly among Member States, however, and parental leave overlaps other types of leave granted to families. The EU’s common rules on minimum parental leave should be better enforced EU-wide, says Parliament in a resolution voted in May 2016. Member States should guarantee working parents the right to take four months off, unpaid, regardless of where and how they are employed, and fathers in particular should be encouraged to apply for it, says the text.

Listen to the Plenary podcast Parental Leave Directive: Towards a revision [Plenary podcast]

 


The longer Policy podcasts in May 2016 highlighted Mid-term review/revision of the Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020 and EU-US cooperation in Justice and Home Affairs.

Mid-term review/revision of the Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020

The EU’s Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) lays down maximum annual levels of EU spending in different areas. The current MFF covers the 2014-2020 period and is the EU’s fifth consecutive multiannual financial plan. However, the Framework is the first to take the form of a regulation, and the first to contain provisions providing for a mid-term review that may lead to its revision.

 Listen to the Policy podcast on the Mid-term review of the Multiannual Financial Framework

EU-US cooperation in Justice and Home Affairs

The United States is a key European Union partner in the area of justice and home affairs (JHA), including in the fight against terrorism. While formal cooperation on JHA issues between the US and the EU goes back to the 1995 New Transatlantic Agenda, it is since 2001 in particular that cooperation has intensified. Today, and for the period up until 2020, the key areas of transatlantic efforts in the JHA field are: personal data protection; counter-terrorism and countering violent extremism; migration and border controls; tracing of firearms and explosives; money laundering and terrorism financing; cybercrime; drugs; and information exchange.

Listen to the Policy podcast on EU-US cooperation in Justice and Home Affairs

 

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2016/08/22/podcasts-may-2016-listen-again/

How will robotics applications change the transport of people and goods?

Modern robot and sports car on white background

Fotolia / iaremenko

Written by Lieve Van Woensel with Brian Kelly,

A study on the ‘Ethics of Cyber-Physical Systems’ has recently been published for the Science and Technology Options Assessment (STOA) Panel. The study examined seven key areas where Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS) could have a significant impact. This blog post has been made using information from a technical briefing paper written for the study by Professor Haydn Thompson (Haydn Consulting Ltd, United Kingdom) and Christien Enzing (Technopolis Group, The Netherlands).

CPS are technical systems where networked computers and robots interact with the physical world. They are found in a wide range of services and applications. CPS are quickly becoming a part of transportation and logistics, primary through autonomous vehicles, and it is important that we examine the impacts they will have in this area.

What changes could we see in transportation?

In the area of transportation, for both people and goods, CPS could have profound implications. CPS could help with the automation of vehicles, leading to fully autonomous driving. We already observe the use of blind side monitoring in vehicles to inform the driver of the presence of people, cyclists, cars and other objects that cannot be seen from inside the vehicle. Alongside autonomous passenger vehicles, we may also see the automation of logistics, including trucks, and warehouse storage and retrieval systems. These changes could also have profound implications for our environment. The increased use of robotic systems could allow for a reduction of overall emissions through more efficient management of traffic and goods, by ensuring that trucks operate closer to full capacity or scheduling routes and deliveries to avoid traffic conditions which affect the efficiency of the vehicles.

What changes could we see in safety?

CPS could have a major impact on safety as decisions are increasingly automated. Since the main cause of vehicle crashes is the result of human error, CPS can increase safety by providing increased awareness for the driver, as shown through the blind side monitoring mentioned above, and by replacing human decision-making with decisions made by CPS, which may have a large impact on increasing safety in transportation. The advances in road safety do not only promise to increase road safety, they promise to help reduce insurance costs as well, making driving more affordable. These developments are, however, not without risks, for instance one such risk from the increasing autonomy of vehicles is that these systems could become susceptible to cyber-terrorism through hacking. Another risk is that individuals could place too much faith in the technology, leading to fatal accidents like the recent crash of a Tesla car running with its autopilot system on.

Will there be an effect on privacy?

CPS in transportation could have a significant impact on privacy. CPS require large amounts of data collected by sensors. This may include personal data and private information on individuals, which could be used to determine when people are at home, where they go in the evenings, the route they take to work, who their friends are or where they currently are. Needless to say this information is highly sensitive and may raise concerns about citizens’ privacy. Furthermore, the data could be misused by criminals. These questions of privacy and security need to be thoroughly addressed if CPS are to become a major component of automotive technology.

What is next?

CPS are here to stay and there are many expected benefits from the development of these technologies in relation to transportation. There are, however, several challenges that need to be addressed, such as privacy, safety and security. CPS may benefit transportation systems and society more broadly, if they are introduced correctly, however, in order to achieve this, policy-makers need to account for these concerns and to ensure that the increased use of automated vehicles is both smooth and enjoyable.

For more information about CPS check out this STOA video.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2016/08/19/how-will-robotics-applications-change-the-transport-of-people-and-goods/