The proven limits of individual efforts and the difficulty of managing collective dynamics make energy transition an extremely challenging task when approached through consumption. Fortunately, technologies can change the game: smart consumption is on the rise. But whose smartness is it: machines', electricity suppliers', or ours?
As noted in a previous article, the very notion of a responsible consumer faces certain limits. The truth is, significant changes in the energy mix cannot be achieved through the goodwill (or conversely, the guilty conscience) of individuals. Does that leave us with no other choice than following decisions from above or waiting for technological solutions from daring entrepreneurs like Elon Musk? If we wish a new, more sober way of life to emerge, we should also trust social imagination, based on the dynamics of sharing and pooling.
Who exactly will be the actors of a coming energy transition? Industry and the major power operators will naturally, of course, be prime contributors but the end-consumers themselves will also have a role to play. The question is: can the latter really tip the balance?
In the same way it revolutionized creative industries, digital technology is revolutionizing higher education, an industry that can be traced back almost a millennium, with the creation of the University of Bologna in 1088. Digital technology has drastically altered the economic balance between the different players, making some models obsolete, allowing others to emerge, enabling economies of scale on one side and leading to additional costs on the other. Destruction, creation: is higher education to enter a Schumpeterian cycle?
The sharing economy has wind in its sails. Its proponents are growing in numbers and the utopian narrative disseminated by its promoters is currently in vogue. But there is another side to the coin.
Of all children entering school this year, 75% will exercise a profession that doesn't exist today. This trend is already noticeable. The good news is that neuroscience discoveries support the idea of learning during our entire lives. But capacities are only one part of the whole picture. How can we establish a genuine culture of lifelong learning? Technologies will help, but companies should also encourage employees to share their experience, knowledge and expertise as part of a comprehensive learning environment incorporating experiential elements, feedback and more formal courses.
Innovative, more participatory and personalized forms of learning are emerging. Among these new forms of learning, two have acquired significant importance over the course of recent years: serious games and MOOCs. Their main advantage is to allow a high degree of personalization in the learning process, a principle that has been long advocated by education specialists but that happens to be impractical in our mass educational models.
Any child is capable of learning how to code. In a world where digital technologies are increasingly pervasive, it is healthy for future citizens to acquire a basic understanding of how their environment works. But is school the most suitable place to do so?
Ever heard of maps 2.0? Yes, just like web 2.0, they are not only digital but also social and personal. You can make them yours, as well as use your friends' knowledge and experience of a city. What do they show, how do they work? Citymaps is probably one of the most innovative startups in the game. CEO and cofounder Elliot Cohen tells us about the dreams that lie beneath the map – with a glimpse of the technical challenges and the business model.
The Net neutrality has nothing to do with universal values. Its aim is to balance interests between Internet service providers and Internet content providers. This was the biggest stake in the U.S. Federal Communications Commission decision, in February. What did it say exactly? Can such a decision really provide the ICPs and public with a free and equal Internet accessibility without any costs?
With the rise of machines, an important number of skills are bound to disappear. But the emergence of new issues also requires new forms of human expertise. Facing worldwide problems that we are yet unable to solve, we need to develop different forms of intelligence, learn to cooperate and achieve results that aren't possible for individuals alone. Will our education systems, fundamentally based on competition, meet this challenge?
Children of the digital era are accustomed to receiving information really fast. They like to parallel process and multi-task. Philosopher Michel Serres describes them as no longer having the same heads. Is it a generational question? In any case educators cannot ignore the new thinking patterns. Our schools must take them into account, not only in adapting teaching methods but also in inventing a new role in a Society that consumes knowledge instantly.
Knowledge is becoming increasingly important in our economies and Society at large, to the extent that a new expression has been coined to baptize this new development phase: the knowledge-based economy. Characterized by the growing contribution of production, dissemination and uses made of knowledge (intangible or immaterial capital) to the competitiveness of enterprises and nations, the knowledge-based economy calls for future citizens and workers to be taught a renewed set of skills, differing partly from those developed during the industrial era.
The Internet has revolutionized our access to knowledge. Why should education not be affected? Institutions are evolving, but the arrival of new technologies and practices such as MOOCs have only had a limited impact thus far. Yet it is now apparent that we stand at the dawn of major changes. It is not just the new tools that will change matters but an in-depth evolution of Society and our economies.
In 2005, the web digitized a new and unexpected field: social relationships. By organizing our social life, the Web 2.0 and social networks have transformed our lives. At the dawn of 2015, digital technologies are about to enter another new and awaited field: our relationship with ourselves. This unlikely encounter between technology and psychology forebodes a radical transformation of our everyday life, a third phase of the digital revolution.
Achieving an energy transition is obviously necessary in the long run, but the situation is much more confusing in the short and mid-term perspectives. Between technological breakthroughs and geopolitical changes, evolutions are difficult to predict. The energy transition has begun and will continue. But if we wish to draw up an overall picture, it is the ambiguities and uncertainties that prevail.
We bathe in a controlled digital reality where a multitude of information flows converge. Processing these data has become a sensitive issue inasmuch as they relate to our private sphere, to our intimacy. Personal control is only partly effective since almost nobody knows how to implement it seriously. This is why experts have been discussing the opportunity of Big Data governance. How can we proceed? Alongside the institutional answers based on the emergence of control authorities, one possible path forward could be via ethical data mining.
The irreversible momentum of MOOCs is penetrating all levels of China's education system, providing students with unprecedented freedom to select courses and access the best educational recourses at home and abroad. Some institutions have taken the lead, but the question is not just one of strategy for universities. In a nation where education reform is imperative, it is MOOCs that are forcing the Chinese education system to move.
The question addresses Europe, as well as emerging countries: how can we ever hope to have an influence on Internet governance if there is no strong, industrial power operating in the digital field?
The energy mix can be defined as the distribution of primary energy sources consumed to produce various types of energy used in a given country. For different reasons, running from availability of the resources to policies enacted in the fight against global warming, national energy mixes will necessarily evolve over the coming decades. However, the natural inertia of history and the political and economic costs make the changes difficult. What are the most promising routes to transition?