Innovations for an e-Society
Challenges for Technology Assessment

Gerhard Banse, Armin Grunwald, Michael Rader (eds.)
Berlin: Edition Sigma, 2002 (Gesellschaft - Technik - Umwelt, Neue Folge 2), ISBN: 3-89404-932-4, 314 Seiten, 24,90 Euro

Contents  [here]



1.     The notion of an e-society

Electronic technologies are increasingly pervasive in all of our areas of living and working. Our society is realigning itself as an "e-society". Accelerating change is at the same time both an expression and a determining factor of globalised market processes and structures. New opportunities for mobile and global networked communication and information processing are questioning the validity of established social structures in politics, industry, science and culture. At the same time the outlines of new societal structures are becoming visible. Open access to information and knowledge is leading on the one hand to utopian hopes, which for example find their expression in the vision of an informed civil society, on the other hand it is linked with risks and fears, e.g. with respect to loss of privacy or the emergence of a new social divide.

If we wish to participate in shaping the emerging new societal reality, there is a need for a constructive understanding between politics, industry, and the public. Scientific analyses, prognoses and assessments of impacts of new technologies make a decisive contribution to the public discourse. They can initiate an opinion forming process and contribute to decision-making processes. This process is to serve to identify desirable technologies and goals and to mobilise the existing potentials for their realisation. It includes the timely recognition of possible fields for conflict and of ways to resolve them.

2.     The Congress "Innovations for an e-society. Challenges for Technology Assessment"

It was against this background that the congress "Innovations for an e-Society. Challenges for Technology Assessment" took place in Berlin from 17 to 19 October 2001. The congress was supported by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and organised by the Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS) of the Research Centre Karlsruhe and the VDI/VDE Technology Centre for Information Technology GmbH Teltow, Germany.

The congress provided a forum for technology assessment (TA) and Innovation and technology Analysis (ITA) to scientifically handle and discuss these existing challenges due to currently available or already foreseeable information and communication technology (ICT). The six plenary sessions and almost one hundred presentations to working sessions during the congress contributed towards the following goals:

The overall aim was to determine, analyse and propose solutions for the challenges of an e-society which arise at the interfaces between science, technological development, the economy, politics, and the general public. The theoretical and empirical analyses presented in the congress were oriented towards constructively shaping the e-society. The various methods of implementing technology assessment in politics and in the economy attempted to identify the preconditions for "best practice" and for "good practice" in advising politics and in industrial technology planning. It was important to consider both types of addressees for technology assessment: the political system - which is responsible for setting the framework for an e-society -, and the economic system, in which concrete products, systems and services are developed for this e-society.

In order to meet these objectives the congress has been organised by using a mix of plenary sessions and working sessions providing ample time for discussion following the presentations. The following working sessions took place:

The congress provided more than 200 delegates from more than 24 European and non-European countries, from a broad variety of scientific disciplines, industry and public administration with the opportunity for an intensive exchange of knowledge and opinions. Special mention should be made of the participation of twenty scientists from the European "transition countries". In particular, the audience consisted mainly of the following groups of persons:

At the closing session, prizes donated by the SAP software company were awarded to the authors of three best papers selected by the organisers and the scientific committee. The prizes were awarded to Danielle Bütschi-Häberlin and Anne Eckhardt (Switzerland) for their contribution "Computer-based patient records - challenge through new solutions", to Robert A. Gehring (Germany) for his paper "Software Patents: IT security at stake?" and to Alexandra Samuel (Canada) for her contribution "De-Coding Hacktivism - Purpose, Method and Identity in a New Social Movement".

This closing session also included a specially conceived improvised play on the topic of the coming information society by the "Drama-Light" Theatre company which provided the participants with some surprising insights.

The majority of the contributions to the congress have been included in the conference preprints which were originally distributed as a regular citable publication at the event itself. In response to popular demand, these are now available on request from ITAS in the form of a CD-ROM. The papers are also available on the conference web site.

3.     The book

This current book starts on the basis of the existing results of discussion on TA and the e-Society and is to be seen as a complement to and continuation of the conference proceedings. It consists of the contributions to the plenary sessions, presentations by invited speakers to open the working sessions, and the contributions of the chairpersons of these working sessions. Of the preprints, the only three also contained in this volume are those which received "best paper" awards.

With this book we wish to make the debate on the possibilities of TA to contribute to overcoming the challenges of the e-Society accessible to the interested public and the scientific communities concerned. The book is particularly addressed to

The book has the following structure:

Part I contains the speech by the Federal Minister of Education and Research Edelgard Bulmahn on the occasion of the opening of the conference "Innovations for an e-Society. Challenges for Technology Assessment".

Part II "Concepts of e-Society and the Role of Technology Assessment" refers to the general challenges to society foreseeable as the result of the e-society, and to the possibilities of TA to contribute towards facing them.

Part III "Impacts of ICT on Government and Economy" is devoted to the specific impacts of ICT on the fields of governance, industry and working life.

Part IV "Security and Privacy in the e-Society" is concerned with aspects of security and data protection in the e-society.

Part V "e-Society and Life World" unites contributions dealing with various aspects of the e-society in real-life situations of its citizens.

The final part VI contains the contribution by the historian Hubert Laitko "From Siemens to Sony: A short Story of Berlin on the long Way to an e-Society" which was presented as the dinner speech on the occasion of a reception of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research for the Congress Participants, and which examines Berlin's role in the development of the e-society.

4.     Acknowledgements

An international congress would obviously strain the resources of a comparatively small institution like ITAS. Thus we gratefully acknowledge the support provided by the various institutions and individuals which made the event possible.

First and foremost, thanks are due to the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, and more specifically its Innovation and Technology Analysis Unit headed by Ms. Kornelia Haugg, for providing a grant as a sound financial basis to enable maximum participation, in particular by researchers from Central and eastern Europe. Ms. Corinna M. Brüntink of the Ministry actively supported the congress from its inception to the production of this volume.

Another major force guiding the course of the congress was its international scientific committee, which comprised the following distinguished scientists: Professor Jacques Berleur (Namur, Belgium), Professor Frank Fischer (Newark, USA), Dr Josef Fröhlich (Seibersdorf, Austria), Dr Silvio Funtowicz (Ispra, Italy), Dr John Grin (Amsterdam, the Netherlands), Professor Herbert Kubicek (Bremen, Germany), Drs Jos Leijten (Delft, the Netherlands), Professor Robin Mansell (London, the United Kingdom), Mr Markku Markkula (Helsinki, Finland), Professor Ortwin Renn (Stuttgart, Germany), Professor Gerd Schienstock (Tampere, Finland), Professor Lech Zacher (Warsaw, Poland), in addition to Ms Corinna M. Brüntink of the Ministry, Dr Daniel Bieber of the VDI/VDE Program administration unit and the editors of this book. We thank the members of the scientific committee warmly for their support and intellectual input.

As novices at the game of organising large international meetings, we relied heavily on professional experience provided by our co-organisers, the VDI/VDE Technology Centre for Information Technology in Teltow, particularly Dr Susanne Giesecke, Ms Regine Becker and their helpers, who did sterling work before and during the congress. Dr Daniel Bieber, the head of the VDI/VDE's department managing the Federal Ministry of Education and Research's program for Innovation and Technology Analysis, also provided valuable help and ideas for the congress. Mr A. Zeich of the VDI/VDE Centre designed instantly recognisable posters and publicity material for the congress.

Mr Mirko Kraemer and his staff at the Quality Hotel and Suites Wilhelmsberg were responsible for the comfort of participants and provided an efficient and, above all, friendly setting for the congress.

Ms Mgr Monika Beköova of Matej Bel University (Slovakia) provided valuable assistance in the preparation of the pre-prints and in the back-office during the congress. Mr Reinhard Moosmann of Ebi Computing in Karlsruhe solved the technical problems which arose throughout the event.

Special thanks are due to Bettina Schmidt-Leis and Margareta Kullmann of the ITAS secretariat for their tireless work before and during the congress, in particular for providing a cheerful welcome to participants at the registration desk during the congress and for coping with all emergencies. Finally, we would like to extend our warmest thanks to our publisher, Rainer Bohn, for his co-operation and efforts to bring this volume to the market as quickly as he has done.

In view of the very short period between the decision to go ahead with the congress and the event itself, the organisers are extremely pleased with the results, although we have obviously learnt many lessons in the course of things. All blame for mishaps rests with the authors, but we sincerely hope that all involved in one way or another with the congress are satisfied with the outcome. We sincerely hope that the congress will be the first in a series of regular events of this type and are already thinking about the next congress in the not-too-distant future.

Karlsruhe, May 2002
Gerhard Banse Armin Grunwald  Michael Rader


Prof. Dr. Gerhard Banse
Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe
Institut für Technikfolgenabschätzung
und Systemanalyse (ITAS)
Postfach 3640
D-76021 Karlsruhe
Hermann-von-Helmholtz-Platz 1
D-76344 Eggenstein-Leopoldshafen

Tel.: +49 (0) 721 / 608 - 23978
Fax: +49 (0) 721 / 608 - 24806

Internet: Homepage von Gerhard Banse

Dr. Michael Rader
Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe
Institut für Technikfolgenabschätzung
und Systemanalyse (ITAS)
Postfach 3640
D-76021 Karlsruhe
Hermann-von-Helmholtz-Platz 1
D-76344 Eggenstein-Leopoldshafen

Tel.: +49 (0) 721 / 608 - 22505
Fax: +49 (0) 721 / 608 - 24806

Internet: Homepage von Michael Rader

Stand: 02.07.2002 - Kommentare und Bemerkungen an:     Gerhard Banse