Over the past couple of months we have been laying the groundwork for the Engineroom project, a Nesta-led project which helps shape the research and funding agenda of the Next Generation Internet (NGI) initiative, the European Commission’s ambitious new flagship programme seeking to build a more inclusive, resilient and democratic internet by 2025.
The NGI is an important opportunity for Europe to take charge in solving some of the most urgent challenges the internet faces today-from the ways the internet has been weaponised to hack our democracies (Cambridge Analytica, fake news, tampering with voting machines, etc.) to the extreme centralisation of power into the hands of just a couple of companies. In order to remedy some of these ills, we need to both articulate a radical new vision for what the internet should be (not just what it shouldn’t be) and develop the kind of alternatives we would need to actually achieve this vision. That is exactly what we set out to do.
Over the past few months, the Engineroom project has been doing a lot of work behind the scenes, using new data methodologies to map emerging communities and conversations around key internet topics and technologies (see more here), building a network of stakeholders all over Europe, and identifying the key areas we think the NGI should focus on.
In the coming months, we will make a lot of this work public. If you are interested in being involved, or would like more information do not hesitate to get in touch with the author of this blog.
What’s in store between now and March 2019:
- What internet do we want? Towards the beginning of next year, we will release a compendium with ambitious visions for the future internet by leading voices and emerging thinkers from Europe and, importantly, also beyond. This collection will combine essays, short sci-fi stories, photography, comics and more. We will soon be releasing an open call for artists and others to propose contributions.
- What might the future hold? In order to steer the future internet in a more positive and ethical direction we need to understand what the future of the internet could look like. That is why we are currently developing an interactive game to allow the public to envision and prioritise different possible outcomes for the internet, and will be organising a scenario building workshop in Amsterdam in October. To help spur the imagination, we will turn the insights gathered from these exercises into a set of fun short stories and videos, speculating what it might be like to be an internet user in 2025 and 2040.
- Early signals of change: Over the past couple of months, the consortium have been conducting cutting-edge data-driven research into the technologies and dynamics likely to underpin the future internet. Have a look at some of our first visualisations, created by our partners DELab and Eurecat here. We will be expanding on this work over the autumn, so do check back then. At the end of the project, we will also publish a detailed guide with all code, data and analysis behind our trend mapping work, which should be of particular interest to both researchers and data scientists, as well as policymakers.
- Building blocks of the future internet: Between August and October, we will be publishing a series of short explainer guides on the nine key topics we think should be addressed if we want to build a more inclusive internet, from ethical A.I to the sustainability of the internet, to deepfake technology.
- Come meet us in person: There will also be many opportunities to engage with the Engineroom project in person. We are planning a workshop and set of talks in Amsterdam in October, data sprints in Warsaw and Barcelona in November, a book launch in London in January and a large full-day event in Berlin in early 2019. Beyond our own events, we will also be spreading the word about the NGI at conferences and other events all over Europe, so we hope to see you there!
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