The precautionary principle is frequently cited in major international statements. However, implementing it still stirs up a lot of debate: is it feasible, is it advisable? Today with hindsight, controversy and experience have enabled us to better frame a somewhat abstract idea that is still seeking its path forward. Two countries only, France and Ecuador have appended the principle to their respective Constitutions and in the former we see some emblematic examples of difficulties to be overcome in enforcing the Principle.
Asia and key emerging countries have embarked in an impressive movement of infrastructure urbanization and modernization. And while these major projects mobilize international expertise, they are however quite different from those conducted in Europe or the United States. The decision-making processes are not the same, and today's architects and planners are putting an emphasis on the very experience of space, which varies considerably from one culture to another.
In emerging economies, the question is now being raised: will a parallel development of middle class and car driving paralyze the megacities? Advanced countries are already experimenting new solutions. How can we banish the spectre of urban immobility?
The arrival of MOOCs both fascinates and scares our Higher Education actors. Is it a game changer? Institutions may be challenged, but to-day the most significant difference seems to concern the teaching experience. Five pionniers share their experience.
The advent of intelligent transportation systems creates opportunities for many players, from the Internet giants to the pioneers of the sharing economy... including smart public authorities. But who will invest? How to share costs and profits? And who will own the data?
Modern economies really need high level research scientists, but there are difficulties when it comes to proposing job openings to the PhDs. We have reached a point now where question has become: what is the real value attached to a doctoral degree, both for Society as a whole and for those who register for demanding studies at this level? Might we be faced with a glut of PhDs? The issue is on the table and when we reframe it, it opens up a new prospective.
A growing segment of the workplace is no longer tied to a single, full-time employer. In the US, as many as 30% of those in today's job market are either self-employed or part-time, and the largest companies report that 30% of their procurement dollars are spent on contingent or fractional workers. While raising concerns, the forces reshaping the nature of work can result in more productive, happier, and sustainable lives.
The African digital boom has already begun. McKinsey estimates that the contribution of the Internet to the annual GDP of Africa could rise from $18 billion in 2014 to $300 billion in 2025. Yet, all the countries are not addressing the digital wave with the same attitude.
Further fueling the ongoing debate over the future of the news media and independent journalism, eBay founder and billionaire Pierre Omidyar last month committed $250 million to a news site co-founded by journalist and author Glenn Greenwald. Omidyar’s investment followed the announcement over the summer that Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos had purchased The Washington Post, also a $250 million investment. The late Steve Jobs’s wife, Lauren Powell, and 29-year-old Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes are also pouring money into old and new media ventures. Could this new band of news media owners shape a technology-led business model that will be profitable and protect the integrity of impartial, ideology-free journalism? Ultimately the ball will rest with the consumer.
Genetically modified organisms have almost become taboo in Europe. Elsewhere in the world, genetically modified plants are being cultivated on a large scale but public acceptance is far from being granted. How to deal with the people's reticence without taking extrem options, such as banning GMOs or ignoring the public outcry? A well-informed, serene debate is necessary. But is it still possible?
With the latest generation of connected objects, the collection of data related to our daily life has taken a new dimension. Covering surprisingly varied practices and objectives, from wellbeing to productivity and health, the notion of quantified self refers to the principles and tools developed to monitor, analyze and share these data. Another social thing? Call it a market.
Here we have yet another of those crazy ideas that excites California, but this one potentially sounds a shade more ominous. In order to meet the shortfall of qualified engineers in Silicon Valley, a group of young entrepreneurs of the Golden State have proposed to anchor a floating city in international waters, off the Californian coast, capable of accommodating 2 000 engineers from all round the world, none of whom having a US entry visa. This would cut the dire and endless thirst for grey matter in the USA, a country where young students are shunning scientific and technical courses. Here we are witnessing a situation that is taking on the proportions of a national, strategic crisis. Other countries, other difficulties. But eveywhere the same question arises: how to train tomorrow's engineers?
Institutions, and not only technology, are a driver for change. In India, a recent experience shows promising and somehow unexpected outcomes. The goal? Ensuring greater transparency and competition in the award of government contracts. The result? Greater transparency, indeed; but also a new, efficient tool for conflict resolution.
Up to 2008, the media have been relatively quiet about food security. However, this topic is resurfacing as a key issue. Financial markets disorders have unveiled underlying tensions: pressures on resources, inequalities in their access, as well as the effects of rapid growth of emerging countries. Today's pressures foreshadow tomorrow's tensions. Can we control these factors? And how?
Disruptive technologies have given the old science of onomastics unprecedented powers. Combined with datamining, extracting semantics from names can provide numerous, valuable applications. Though discriminating names carries a high risk of abuse, it can also drive new, unexpected ways for developing poor areas.
The Bitcoin bubble bursting is but one small part of a bigger story. The most exciting part is not speculation, but challenging the banks' control over payment solutions. This is what we should discuss. Starting now.
Urbanization isn't just about cities. The impact of emerging megacities on the surrounding resources is a growing concern for both experts and local authorities. One shouldn't forget that every large city owes its growth to a generous hinterland, able to feed its inhabitants. The equation is changing. But it still has to be solved.
With massive open online courses, university is the latest facility to be overwhelmed by a digital tsunami. Online learning is not new. But MOOCs take it to a unprecedented extent, and it's for free. Is there a trick? Strategies, prospects, impact, one should have a look at the entire landscape to get an idea of what is going on.
With the introduction of Google Glass, an effort to create and market computerized eyewear, Google has captured the imagination of technologists, consumers and even sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live, while also raising a number of social and privacy issues. Experts at Wharton say that the Google Glass experiment will be important to watch from a business, marketing and cultural perspective, and they add that no one, including Google, has any clue how the search giant's efforts will play out.
In 2011 Germany decided to abandon nuclear power and switch to renewable energy. Two years later, lessons have been learned: financial cost, industrial implications, social acceptability, political tensions shape a new landscape. Who is paying what, and for whom? What is the environment iompact of the new policy? How to manage such a turn?