The time is ripe to “close the loop” with users’ and social perspectives, strengthening the role of society in the process of technological development and orientations

As of 2013 EU, a group of industry companies and major European R&D centres have joined forces to orient and lead the way for the development of new-generation network technology in the EU. One of their main objectives was to support the EU in “recapturing the global technological lead through seizing the opportunities offered by 5G”. These same actors are now researching on the future 6G infrastructure.

Indeed, with future technological priorities and orientations led primarily by industry and R&D actors, none or only little attention has been attributed so far to aspects such as societal acceptance, societal impact, environmental sustainability. Embedding these values into technology, however, is crucial, and needs to be done now, when the technology is still at a conceptual and vision stage.

It is here that the 6g4society project comes into scene. Providing and fostering a multidisciplinary, complementary perspective, the project will work on conveying human-centric values within future technological development. It our aim to explore long-term and wide societal impacts and implications of disruptive technology, to support the creation of a technology built upon transparent, sustainable and inclusive societal values, and to understand the aspects influencing the social acceptance.
Our main challenge will be to facilitate the conception and building of next-generation networks and related technologies, in a way where performance aspects (e.g. connectivity, consistency, accuracy, reliability, efficiency, cost-effectiveness, rapidity, etc.) are conceived, designed or chosen in a way that is also conducive to support ethical principles such as privacy, safety, accessibility, inclusivity, sustainability, as well as societal and economic needs (e.g. expanded global access and improved reach of benefits), creating a fair trustworthy socio-technical environment.

In 6G4Society, CEL will study the impact of 6G technology on society, will explore the variables and social aspects that influence technology social acceptance, and provide advice on social and ethical thematic aspects relevant to 6G development, working on the founding values that shall underpin and be integrated into technological development. Also, we will follow the ongoing standardization debate, to make sure to channel what counts for us into the process. Finally, we will address acceptability, tackling barriers and issues related to the information and communication context.

Service involved

Ethics assessment of technology
We help our clients and partners in the process of critical analysis to examine the effects that the introduction and use of a technology may have on human rights, society, and the environment. This is a complex process that requires a systematic view and consideration of how technology might affect people and society at large in the short and long term. The ethical impact of technology is therefore crucial when developing and deploying new technologies, in order to mitigate the negative effects and maximise the benefits, and to enable developers, organisations and policy makers to make informed decisions. In this assessment, we assist our clients and partners to consider all relevant factors; there are several methodologies and approaches used to assess the ethical impact of technologies, including:
  • Privacy impact analysis: this type of analysis assesses the effects of technology on the privacy of individuals and their personal information. It considers the risks of monitoring and tracking, the consequences of possible data breaches and the security measures needed to protect users' privacy.
  • Social impact assessment: this type of analysis evaluates the effects of technology on society and the economy in general, considering impacts on unemployment, social equality, access to education and health, quality of life and environmental sustainability.
  • Ethical impact assessment: This type of analysis assesses the effects of technology on society's morals and values, considering impacts on social justice, accountability, transparency, human dignity and individual freedom.
  • Life cycle analysis: This type of analysis assesses the environmental impacts of technology throughout its life cycle, from production to use and end of life.
Ethical impact assessment of technologies therefore requires a multidisciplinary evaluation involving technology experts, ethics experts, legal experts, environmental experts and other stakeholders.
Social acceptance of technologies assessment
Connected, disruptive technologies permeate all aspects of our daily lives and pose challenges to the real foundation of human rights, such as the right to privacy or the freedom of speech. One could say that human values such as trust, accountability, and dignity are mutually influenced by the social acceptance of technologies. We support our clients to conceive a novel way of aligning the thus-far divergent concepts of sustainability, ethics impact, and technological innovation. By combining these three concepts, we respond to the need of a socially responsible innovation ecosystem by developing a tailored methodology for assessing users’/citizens’ social acceptance of technologies, a fundamental driver for technology market adoption. Our social acceptance framework includes six fundamental dimensions over which social acceptability (i.e. perception, motivation, trust, awareness, capacity enabling, and accountability) is measured and assessed through a two-step approach based on an online Sentiment Analysis (SA) – to create structured and actionable knowledge from the web – and the engagement of our client’s stakeholders (e.g. relevant target groups, associations of citizens, domain operators, decision makers, etc.) for the technology co-creation and communication regarding its social acceptance.
The key to success is communicating how you want to get there. A creative idea alone is not enough. In order for our customers to have an impact and amplify their message, they need an efficient communication strategy. Motivating our customers’ reasons for action can engage stakeholders and drive their target audience to them. We are essential at every level, discovering the insight that informs the idea, determining how we target the audience and helping define the channel and content strategies. Our ideas, our copywriting, our creativity, our design, and our technical skills carry storytelling across a host of different channels. We use several tools to create honest and authentic opinions that work across different platforms and speak to the right audience. We can provide:
  • Communication channels to launch your idea (co-creating newsletters, intranets, social media, multimedia, and print)
  • Events management to build Networking, animate workshops and organise conferences.
  • Stakeholder engagement to build up the relationships keeping your stakeholder networks informed and engaged.