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.