ALLEA, the European Federation of Academies of Sciences and Humanities, and the Royal Society have jointly published a discussion paper on Flourishing in a data-enabled society (PDF). Based on the outcomes of discussions during an ALLEA/Royal Society conference in November 2018, the paper calls for a coordinated approach across disciplines and sectors to ensure data and digital technologies support human flourishing.
The publication provides a concise overview on the impact of digital transformations and how increased data collection and use is transforming individual lives, modern societies and markets. These transformations involve trade-offs and in particular they can create tensions with values such as privacy, autonomy, rationality, equality, and dignity. Despite these unsolved conflicts and ongoing uncertainty around the direction of these transformations, the paper emphasises the potential for the use of data in areas such as healthcare, public service provision, or sustainable development.
The paper calls for establishing an inclusive, transparent and sustainable data ecosystem which respects the basic values of our societies, and is essential to underpin trust. According to the paper, such data-enabled innovation needs “a system-wide approach to be most effective”, which should include sound regulation, technology assessment as well as responsible innovation, and meaningful public engagement.
The paper concludes that such a concerted European approach should consider in particular the following objectives:
- Putting societal values at the heart of data use
- Establishing good data governance and regulation
- Understanding opportunities for Europe
The discussion paper is the first step in an ongoing collaboration and it is envisaged that a scoping paper on the topic will be presented to the European Commission’s Scientific Advice Mechanism (SAM) via SAPEA (Science Advice for Policy by European Academies).