Enabling responsible ICT-related research and innovation
The development and deployment of digital technologies and services induces pervasive and radical changes in our lives and in the societal system. The explosion of the number of devices, their increased "intelligence", autonomous behavior and connectivity are changing significantly the life conditions of Europeans. Beyond the benefits brought about by technological innovations, there are also challenges, and sometimes threats, that need to be addressed to ensure that technological innovations go hand in hand with societal needs and expectations. Including SSH (social sciences and humanities) expertise provides a constructive and critical accompaniment of the scientific and technological developments for the projects funded under LEIT-ICT, and enables responsible research and innovation in the digital age.
SSH engagement in ICT research can both address proactively the impacts of the take-up of novel technologies, and contribute to innovation by proposing alternative approaches. For example, considering that there is a trade-off between privacy and security refers to conceptions that can be challenged. Reconsidering underlying assumptions or taking a new and broader view to ICT related research and innovation can lead to other options that inspire different and more responsible technological R&I, with new benefits for the society.
a. Research and Innovation Actions should take a fresh look on the relationship between information and communication technologies, on the one hand, and social phenomena, on the other hand. They should contribute to ongoing ICT-driven research and innovation by providing best practice in collaborative research between SSH and ICT communities. The projects are expected to have direct relevance to ongoing ICT-related research and innovation, in particular in the area of robotics, cyber-physical systems, internet of things, big data and cybersecurity.
From this wide range of issues, proposals are expected to focus on one or both of the following clusters:
- How can we avoid the traps of ICTs ending up in isolating humans behind their screen, or harnessing them in a passive role? In the forthcoming hyperconnected era, it is essential to acknowledge the dual human aspirations for relationships and for freedom, and the dynamic nature of the relationships between humans and artefacts.
- What are the conditions for ICT-enabled innovations to generate interesting and rewarding jobs, and reduce the risk of excluding sections of society from the labour market? What economic models can ensure a fair sharing of the created added value?
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 1 and 2 million would allow this area to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
b. Smaller short-term Research and Innovation Actions are expected to engage SSH expertise and, potentially other actors, to reflect and challenge the way ICT-related research and innovation is currently approached in a specific area and/or reflected in the call text. This approach opens new ways for interactions between SSH and ICT. SSH expertise is called for to unveil and challenge the implicit assumptions underlying broader technological research agendas, with a view to propose constructive alternative framings which enhance considerations for responsible ICT research and innovation. These so called "sister projects" should clearly describe how they intend to bring an innovative research perspective for one or more LEIT ICT topic areas. These projects are expected to have a light project structure, accommodating for its exploratory experimental nature and its relevance beyond disciplinary boundaries.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 300.000 and 500.000 and running for 12 months would allow this area to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts and/or proposing other durations.
Minimum one action will be selected for each of the areas (a, b) described above.
Note that there are related topics with emphasis on SSH and responsible ICT research and innovation in other parts of ICT LEIT WP.
- Alternative approaches and new perspectives for future societal relevant ICT research and innovation activities.
- Increased research collaboration and common agenda between ICT and RRI-SSH communities.
- Improved take-up of responsible ICT research and innovation that takes into account human and societal concerns and expectations under new technological conditions
- Increased relevance and usability of SSH knowledge for ICT R&I processes in order to align ICT R&I with human needs and societal expectations.
- Increased societal relevance of future research agendas in ICT-related areas.