Formulating Grand Fundamental Challenges


  • Motivate new research avenues from a global perspective.
  • Formulate FET (Future and Emerging Technologies) research topics, initiatives and modalities.
  • Estimate the effort required and analyze the expected impact on science, technology, and society.
  • Explore the combined advantages of information processing by humans and machines (human computer confluence).

  • Description

    Scientific progress is probably best stimulated by posing challenging questions and providing resources to solve them. This unit aims at elaborating grand FET (Future and Emerging Technologies) challenges regarding the modeling and integrative design of socio-economic systems with ICT (Information and Communication Technologies). Grand challenges of this kind may be identified by studying emergent trends with tools like the ones mentioned in the "Innovation Accelerator" project challenge (if they become available during the time period of this project). Complementary, a list of leading scientist will be consulted to identify the grand challenges in the field. Such challenges will most likely reach from fundamental to practical challenges, involving computer, software, communication and sensing aspects of ICT.
    Research subjects could, for example, concern the flexible optimization of resource usage, new forms of sensing and interactions, new forms of cognitive work, new algorithms reflecting specific features of social interactions (such as meanings, interpretations and intentions, or emotions, or roles and norms, etc.). They may discover innovative ways to better anticipate the future or better cope with the unexpected, to create new methods for identifying tipping points and instabilities of socio-economic (e.g. financial) systems, or reveal the mechanisms of second-order emergence (such as group identity, economic fitness, or monetary value). They may also concern new ways of safeguarding privacy of data without sacrificing benefits of the Web and social networking. Furthermore, they may propose innovative socio-inspired technologies. For example, they may reveal possibilities of what may be called “social (or swarm) computing”, oriented at the way in which humans collectively explore and evaluate complex environments and information in a highly decentralized way, using mechanisms of opinion formation and collective intelligence.

    Grand Challenges Report Methodology

    A list of 10 to 20 most important challenges to be addressed in the future shall be created in a multi-stage process. First, a significant list of leading experts (identified at earlier stages of the project) will be asked to identify interesting challenges. These will be grouped according to subjects. Then, in a second step, experts with a similar focus are asked to elaborate a short description of the respective subjects. In the third stage, subjects will be ranked according to innovation potential, importance and expected impact. The ranked list of challenges will finally constitute the basis of the report to be delivered.


    Identification of a preliminary list of challenges.


    WP-4: Recommendation report (white paper) regarding fundamental challenges to be addressed in the future. Now available for download

    Deadline for contributions

    Jan 15, 2010

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    The deadline to contribute to this Think Tank has expired on 2010-01-16 00:00:00. You can still upload a contribution, but it will not be included in the white paper.

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    Challenge / Area

    What are the characteristics of the challenge/emerging area? What is the contribution to transforming ICT and ICT research? Is it an area that has been/will be opened up due to new insights from multidisciplinary perspectives?


    What are the foundational transformative research challenges? List research topics that would be relevant and together bring ICT forward.

    Expected Impact

    What would be the expected impact of a breakthrough in this area? Where would the impact be (science, technology, economy, society)?

    Target Outcome

    What would be the specific outcome of research supported in this area?

    Suitability for ICT and FET

    What makes this suitable for ICT-FET as opposed to mainstream ICT? Is it vision-driven and high-risk, embryonic or foundational? Is there already a (pre-)established research road map for this topic(s)?


    Is this topic addressing an existing or new community? What areas of expertise are to be involved? Is it a multidisciplinary area, and if so is this a new or an existing mix of disciplines?

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