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Crowdsourcing future policy: the Futurium

Mariafrancesca Miele and the Futurium Team

Background and context on Futurium:

Futurium. One platform. Your voices. Our future.

The European Commission's Directorate General for Communications Networks, Content and Technologies (DG CONNECT) has launched the Digital Futures foresight project to prepare for reflections on ICT-related policies beyond 2020.

The project's most distinctive feature is the grassroots involvement of stakeholders to define long-term visions (around 2040-50), anticipate possible challenges and opportunities and generate ideas to inform the policy reflections that will take place in 2014 around the renewal of the European Parliament and the Commission. This process is centralized on an online platform called Futurium (

Stakeholders use Futurium to co-create the visions and policy ideas that matter to them and attach scientific evidence to these through a library of relevant references. A series of online webinars has also been launched in order to further stimulate the discussion on future visions and policy ideas.

Insight on 6 futures:

Future Parenting


The children of 2050 will live in a world with no separation between the virtual and physical life. Big data will seamlessly draw together every child’s cultural and biological identities. They will be empowered through technology and their education will be part of a much wider cultural sphere and will build their political agency from an early age.

How will our approach to privacy change in this future? What knowledge gaps do we still need to fill in with respect to the impact of digital technologies on children? In what ways can ICT be used more as a tool for empowering children, rather than controlling them?

The perception is that, although today’s policy debate has rightly focussed on social networks and teenagers, in the future it will be increasingly necessary to consider pervasive technology and its implications since the very early years of a child’s life.  

Future visions of big data


The increased availability and use of big data may evolve into four possible scenarios:

  1. Big data for an empowered collective, whereby we will live in an ICT ecosystem that supports social sensing and mining processes and transforms the information into knowledge services for everybody.
  2. Big data for an empowered individual, who has access to information giving him/her an increased awareness of their own behaviour with respect to that of the crowds.
  3. Democratized big data and participatory sensing, where people will be engaged and take part in creating and using big data and knowledge.
  4. Global-scale social simulation to generate an understanding of the shift from “what is” to “what if” and anticipate the consequences of change in complex socio-economic systems.

In all cases, it will be necessary to strike an optimal and accepted balance between the information that each of us gives and what we in turn get back from this. A new kind of professional will also emerge from this: the data scientists, who combines the skills if software programmer, statistician and storyteller/artist to extract the nuggets of gold hidden under mountains of data. 

A world of super-centenarians


People will have longer and healthier lives. Life expectancy will exceed 110 years, with peaks of 150 years. Life long learning and life long working will be the norm, supported by enhanced communication across the physical and virtual spaces, which will enable more interaction, accelerated knowledge-sharing and cross-fertilization of experiences across generations.

However, in a future where society will mainly be driven by the needs of older people, it will become necessary to manage the risk of inter-generational clashes (due to, for example, competition for scarce job resources and overpopulation).

What new models will need to be developed in order to deal with this? How will the sharing of resources, jobs, roles, goods and services need to be redesigned to minimize the threats of scarcity and emphasize the potential for symbiosis between experience and renewal?  

Decision making in 2050 (Prise de décision en 2050)


Increased connectivity through the Internet and the rise of big data will generate a more politically engaged society that is also more sensitive to the needs of others. Decision-making in politics will continue to be a largely human process, but strongly influences by the analyses, simulations and data provided by ever more intelligent machines.

National politics will be overshadowed by local decision-making processes, as managing complex issues will be more simple at the smaller scale, where there are less opposing factors to be taken into account.

Will a more politically active society work best through representative democracy, or will each individual’s opinion on all topics count? What new roles will emerge in politics as the use of big data and machines to support decision-making becomes the norm?

ICT & Art Connect


The combined strengths of ICT and art will boost change and generate a more creative Europe. The dialogue between these two domains will stimulate novel solutions to technological and societal challenges, by bringing together the enhanced capacity to sense the world offered by ICT and art’s ability to provide unexpected representations of the world, which provoke new insights and foster innovation.

How could artists and scientists be brought together to work in this way? How can the visions of the former and the expertise of the latter be combined so as to produce creative and effective solutions? Will we evolve into a society where scientists and artists are no longer distinct from one another, but have merged into a single profession?

There needs to be more space for ICT and art to interact, connect find common ground and even clash – the more opportunities for this there are, the faster the disciplines will find a way of collaborating effectively.

Presence 2050 and the Matrix vision


People and objects will have a complete and accurate digital image of themselves. Each and every function of our body, including our senses and our position, will be mirrored into the virtual space. Likewise, each and every single component making up complex artefacts such as buildings and vehicles will have a corresponding virtual 3D image.

Replicas will essentially become alter egos of the original and the mirrored reality will enable these entities to be stored, manipulated, hidden, displayed or replicated as necessary. Through software add-ons, it will be possible to change the logic and behaviour of replicas with respect to the originals, so as to learn from these differences.   

How will we managed this dual world? What rules and regulations will we need to put in place to control the replication process and avoid an over-proliferation of the virtual with respect to the real? What kind of certification system will be required in order to guarantee the reliability, trust and security of these replicas? 

To participate in the Futurium futures, please follow the link to the Futurium website