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Supporting and promoting responsible research and innovation in ICT

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - RRI-ICT Forum (Supporting and promoting responsible research and innovation in ICT)

Reporting period: 2017-01-01 to 2017-12-31

In less than two decades, Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) have totally transformed not only the way people connect, communicate and access information, but also the way they work and entertain, they deal with education, health, safety issues, etc. Information technologies, communication networks and social media have also transformed the way wealth is produced, the way societies are governed, and the way they impact their environment. It is then necessary to thoroughly explore the two-way interactions between technology and society, and, putting the human at the center of the analysis, to explore how the digital age can be a true success factor not only for EU’s competitiveness but also for EU’s values and people.

In this context, Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) has a particular importance. RRI can be defined as an inclusive approach to Research & Innovation (R&I), aiming at better aligning both the process and outcomes of R&I with the values, needs, and expectations of the society, notably through reinforcing public engagement, open access, gender dimension, ethical issues, and (formal and informal science) education. Within RRI, the contribution of Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH) to an RRI approach in ICT is critical: SSH can help monitor economic, legal, and social issues related to technological developments and update the concepts, meanings, and expectations arising from the deployment of ICT.

The need for an RRI approach had been identified by European Commission’s DG Research & Innovation in the early 00’s, through its “Science and Society Action Plan” encouraging a better connection between science and European citizens. Today, RRI has become a major cross-cutting issue in the Horizon 2020 framework programme.

The RRI-ICT Forum project, launched on Jan. 1, 2015 for a period of 3 years, aims at analysing, supporting and promoting the contribution of Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH) and the Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) approach in ICT research and innovation under H2020. To that end, the project relies on the following activities:

- Active interaction with other RRI/SSH-intensive (H2020 & non-H2020) ICT-related projects,
- Development of an open community devoted to RRI in ICT,
- Organisation of annual multi-faceted and multi-disciplinary open events,
- Publication of annual reports analysing the emergence of RRI in ICT,
- Contribution to conferences and publications.

RRI-ICT Forum curates the RRI-ICT domain in H2020, facilitates community views and agenda, and empowers other projects and the European Commission.
RRI-ICT ultimate objectives are the promotion, the facilitation and the analysis of a pragmatic RRI-SSH approach in H2020 ICT projects. To this end, the first year of RRI-ICT Forum was critical to successfully launch the project and kick-start RRI-SSH embodiment in H2020. It focused on building the project tools and laying the ground for the future activities.

The main achievements of the first year were to:
• “Brand” the project with its own identity and clearly position it in the RRI-SSH ecosystem;
• Screen H2020 ICT projects and identify those which are most relevant for RRI-SSH;
• Build a community of relevant projects around the topic;
• Assess the level of RRI-SSH awareness among relevant projects to evaluate their needs and fine-tune the RRI-ICT Forum work plan;
• Raise awareness on RRI-SSH issues among the community;
• Take stock of the most relevant literature, experiences and projects around RRI-SSH to identify the theoretical and practical legacy that H2020 ICT projects can use in adopting an RRI-SSH approach.
In view of the objectives of the first project year, impact has been very satisfactory. In particular, RRI-ICT Forum direct engagement of ICT projects, strong online presence, and successful organisation of the RRI-ICT 2015 event and of the art and civil society workshops, gave great visibility to the project and to the RRI-SSH topic. This is demonstrated by the number of RRI-SSH reference persons (>150), the large number of participants to the project events (>200), and the online visibility of the project (>3,000 unique visitors and >450 Twitter followers).

Now, future impact will be measured against the objectives for the project second year. Those are to go from awareness to action, in the sense that ICT H2020 projects must integrate the RRI approach and SSH contributions into their activities. This will be facilitated by RRI-ICT Forum, who will lead the creation of user-friendly guidelines, further explore the meaning and methods of RRI in specific topics (e.g. robotics, Big Data, etc.), keep raising awareness of RRI-SSH issues, and support exchanges and knowledge-sharing among stakeholders in the RRI ecosystem. Concrete impact will be guaranteed by working with selected “flagship projects”, with which RRI-ICT Forum will build a stronger relationship.
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