The 6 th Gago Conference on European Science Policy
[...]. Considerable time should be devoted to setting up a dialogue in each member State on the issue of human resources for science, engineering and technology, helping policy-makers understand what is required, and building bridges between national and European actors. Dialogue between industrial and academic organizations in Europe should also be pursued.
José Mariano Gago In "Europe needs more scientists", European Commission, Brussels, 2004
23 - 24 October 2023
Digital Global Observatories
How Advanced Computing can help shaping our common future in times of increasing uncertainty and unsettled lives?
6th Gago Conference on European Science Policy
A joint organization of Ciencia Viva and Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC-CNS)
With the special patronnage of The Spanish Presidency of the Council of the European Union
Barcelona , 23 – 24 October, 2023
Brief Conference Outline
How far advanced computing together with design and use of digital observatories making use of digital twins can help shape our common future in times of increasing uncertainty and unsettled lives?
This question has framed the 6th Gago Conference on European Science Policy, at the Barcelona Supercomputing Centre, under the scope of the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2023, and in a way to foster the impact of the Europe-Latin America Summit of July 2023.
It addresses novel forms of digital observation and governance in health, urban planning and the environment, including the development and usage of digital twins of our communities and landscapes.
The discussion is framed in terms of the challenges and opportunities to consider human agency, be centered on people and be based on changing collective behaviors leading us to safer, cleaner and more “collectively” resilient and cooperative societies.
Emerging trends in the growing digitalization of our communities and economies will be particularly discussed in terms of the increasing world relevance of the Global South and the critically relevant role of Europe-Latin America and Europe-Africa cooperation, as well as the opportunities for Europe to foster South-South cooperation.
Recent unexpected threats to our common safety and public goods, including public health, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, the increasing activity of individual digital terrorism and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, have shown that our societies are not as safe as we thought. In association with the climate disaster we all are facing, demographic forecasts and the tensions resulting from increasing water scarcity affecting the world's most vulnerable communities, we are facing unprecedented threats that should foster a clear call for action. Deep reflection on these issues must lead us to safer, cleaner, more resilient, cooperative societies. Using novel forms of digital observation and governance, including the digital twins of our communities and landscapes, ought to consider human agency, be centred on people and be based on changing collective behaviours.
This question has framed the 6th Gago Conference on European Science Policy, at the Barcelona Supercomputing Centre, under the scope of the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2023 and in a way to deepen teh discussion promoted at the Europe-Latin America Summit of July 2023. ...
The analysis clearly shows that every forecast for world societies in the coming decades will be strongly affected by the emerging trends in the growing digitalization of our communities and economies. It includes the increasing world relevance of the Global South and the critically relevant role of Europe-Latin America and Europe-Africa cooperation, as well as the opportunities for Europe to foster South-South cooperation.
Although the advantages and disadvantages of digital observation and governance based on centralized and decentralized digital networks are still subject to many uncertainties requiring comprehensive technical and policy debates, the use of advanced computing together with decentralized digital networks and blockchain control is only partially immune to biases. Blockchain algorithms incentivize and ultimately give preference to participants that have access to more nodes, therefore, to the most active ones. Artificial Intelligence (AI) can help by modelling the information flows and learning different participants' critical use patterns. Such practices can then provide input to set the parameters that govern the behaviour of blockchain algorithms.
However, the massified use of AI-enabled innovations is also not free of additional questions because the "power it has to make us act in the ways it predicts reduces our agency over the future". In predicting our behaviour, AI systems can end up changing it. Consequently, collective human wisdom needs to be strengthened so that emerging regulatory issues for an increasing digital age should help promote critical approaches to AI, with clear accountability and clarity about boundaries and purpose, as well as responsibility. 2 Its requires rethinking of the techno-centric narrative of progress, embracing and harnessing uncertainty, as well as abandoning the fantasy of control over nature and the illusion of techno-centric dominance of AI-enabled innovations 3 .
The issue is clear in that it creates tensions between developers/promoters and human-led policy making, which need to be informed by negotiations of trade-offs. Above all, it requires a transdisciplinary approach to collective behaviours 4 and consideration of "human agency" across economics, philosophy, law, science and technology studies, history and sociology to engage with all the necessary ingredients of an emerging decentralized digital age and AI-enabled innovations.
Following Joseph Henrich (2016) 5 , among others, the "secret of our species success resides not in the power of our individual minds, but in the collective brains of our communities. Our collective brains arise from the synthesis of our cultural and social natures - from the fact that we readly learn from others (are cultural) and can, with the right norms, live in large and widely interconnected groups (are social)". He shows that larger and more interconnect societies produce more "know-how" and that “the challenge has always been how to pevent communities from fragmenting and social networks from dissolving".
In other words and following Helga Novotny (2021), digital observation and governance should be oriented to promote "digital humanism" and guarantee a transdisciplinary approach to collective behaviours and consideration of "human agency".
The rationale for this discussion also relies on the fact that the climate crisis is probably the biggest challenge humanity is facing. Its effects in the field of health led the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare that "the climate crisis threatens to annihilate the progress of the last 50 years in global health and poverty reduction. Further, it widened the inequalities in health that exist between and within different populations". It recognized that "climate change is the greatest global threat to human health. The Paris Agreement is perhaps the most impactful health agreement of the 21st century" (WHO, 2021); however, there is no sustainable development without guaranteeing the rights of all people. Future actions must take into account the connection between the "ecological footprint" indicators and those associated with the "social footprint" (i.e., poverty, inequality, and violation of basic rights).
The latter means changing and developing green/blue economies and healthier societies. It means changing our daily routines and work habits, as well as our cities, transport, agriculture, and industry, in a way achieving a balance between the carbon emitted into the atmosphere and the carbon removed from it. This balance - or net zero - will happen when the amount of carbon we add to the atmosphere is no more than the amount removed.
For this change to happen and be facilitated by digital observation and governance, we need to understand better "Human Agency" and our emerging collective behaviours to guarantee the sustainability of the populations, simultaneously with their right to develop. And this requires the governance of complex and massive amounts of data and their synergies (i.e., "data ecologies" ), including new satellite-based data, together with the necessary knowledge and innovation to improve land use management. Large amounts of data require new technological tools such as artificial intelligence, cloud computing, data analysis, and machine learning for handling, processing, understanding and exploitation, together with new in situ information systems and the knowledge and innovation needed to improve land use management and the development of sustainable and healthy territories.
Understanding knowledge as our common public good will allow citizens to be an integral and critical stakeholders in future developments. The latter will help policymakers better understand how decentralized digital networks and AI can be used to develop further to make public services more effective by delivering seamless services, cutting down digital bureaucracy and giving citizens back their most precious asset, namely their time. In addition, it will drive new policy options to enhance the governance and regulation of decentralized digital networks, including those in the public sector, ensuring high standards of conduct across all areas of public sector practice, promoting public sector effectiveness and delivering better service to its users.
These challenges and associated risks will possibly be mitigated in implementations using practices, methods and tools generated by a new trend in research and innovation: that of "Responsible AI", underscoring principles such as fairness, transparency and explainability, human-centeredness, privacy and security.
Considering this context, the Conference will focus on the following issues:
Challenges for green and efficient advanced computing;
Digital humanism; ethical and responsible computing; responsible AI;
Digital observatories, digital twins and skill development: users, developers and promoters;
Transdisciplinary approaches to collective behaviors: governance of data ecologies;
Potential markets for digital twins: public and semi-public goods versus proprietary knowledge;
Emerging developments and challenges in digital observatories and advanced computing:
Disease observatories: advanced computing and digital twins of public health, the concept of "One Health";
Urban observatories: digital twins of complex and vulnerable urban contexts, including the most vulnerable in the Global South;
Forest observatories: digital twins of forest and remote areas, oriented to sustainable land use management, with an emphasis in Africa and Latin America, including in Amazonia and the other tropical biomes;
Ocean/water observatories: digital twins of the ocean and rivers, oriented to sustainable blue economies, including in the Atlantic; North-South/South-North cooperation.
Application areas and policy implications:
The context: the Gago Conferences on European Science Policy
The Gago Conferences on European Science Policy provide an international forum to strengthen the debate on emerging issues of research and innovation policy in Europe and promote the necessary involvement of major stakeholders in policymaking and the diffusion of knowledge in science education and culture. The Conferences also seek to strengthen international scientific and technological cooperation networking in Europe towards a positive impact on a global scale.
Science and technology (S&T) are key global resources for our collective future, wealth, job creation and shared prosperity at home and abroad. The impact of S&T and innovation result from a collaborative, long-term, collective and uncertain process involving an extensive division of labour, which requires massifying the training of human resources and qualifying the labour force in many economic sectors. Increasing interest in these processes has driven innovative research and practice across various businesses and academic disciplines - from management, marketing, engineering and economics to public policy, sociology, history and law.
The primary objective of these conferences is to bring together leading representatives from academic, business, social, cultural and government sectors worldwide to present and discuss current and future issues of critical importance for European science and technology, including their impact on fostering social and economic development and shared prosperity both at home and abroad. Multidisciplinary perspectives are encouraged to provide state-of-the-art and useful knowledge to decision-makers in the private, public and social sectors - including informed and effective education, culture, business, government policies and strategies for Europe.
International Steering Committee of the Gago Conferences on European Science Policy :
- Manuel Heitor, Center for Innovation, Technology and Policy Research (IN+), Instituto Superior Tecnico, University of Lisbon, former Minister for Science, Technology and Higher Education, Portugal.
- Rosalia Vargas, Ciencia Viva, Portugal.
- Teresa Riera Madurell, Barcelona Supercomputing Centre (BSC-CNS), Universitat de les Illes Balears (UIB), former Member of the European Parliament, Spain.
- Julio E. Celis, EACS – European Academy Cancer Sciences; former director Danish Cancer Center, Denmark.
International Secretariat of the Gago Conferences on European Science Policy :
The Gago Conferences on European Science Policy provide an international forum for debate on emerging European research and innovation policy issues. Ciência Viva organizes these conferences to celebrate the legacy of José Mariano Gago on the appropriation of science by citizens. José Mariano Gago was the founder of Ciência Viva and the first president of Initiative for Science in Europe.
- Josep M. Martorell , Barcelona Supercomputing Centre, Spain
- Teresa Riera Madurell , Barcelona Supercomputing Centre, former member of the European Parliament, Spain
- Manuel Heitor , Centre for Innovation, Technology and Policy Research (IN+), Instituto Superior Tecnico, University of Lisbon, former Minister for Science, Technology and Higher Education, Portugal
- Rosalia Vargas , Ciencia Viva, Portugal
- Julio Celis , European Academy of Cancer Sciences, former Director of the Danish Cancer, Denmark
- Alfonso Valencia , Barcelona Super Computing Centre, Spain.
- Paco Doblas , Barcelona Super Computing Centre, Spain.
- Jose Maria Cela , Barcelona Super Computing Centre, Spain.
- Ulises Cortes , Barcelona Super Computing Centre, Spain.
- Fabrizio Gagliardi , Barcelona Super Computing Center, Spain.
- Angel Font , CEO, La Caixa Foundation Barcelona, Spain; President, European Foundation Centre
The conference will gather high-level speakers, including:
- Policy makers in European member states;
- European Commission and European Parliament representatives;
- Leaders and other representatives from research and business institutions,;
- Representatives of young researchers´ associations;
- Key stakeholders of the European Research Area;
Monday, 23 October
9:30 - Reception
10:00 - Welcome
10.30 - Opening Session 1: Developments, challenges and public participation in Digital Observatories and Advanced Computing
11.30 Coffee break
12.00 Session 2: Accountable, Responsible, Transparent ArtificiaI Intelligence for Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs
13.30 - Lunch break
15.15 - Visit to the exhibition “AI: Artificial Intelligence”, guided by Jordi Torres, Scientific Commissioner for the exhibition, and Luis Nacenta, Commissioner for the exhibition .
16 :15 - Session 3: Urban Observatories: Digital twins of complex and vulnerable urban contexts, including the most vulnerable in the Global South.
17.45 - Cofee break
18.00 - Session 4: Environmental Observatories. Digital Twins for blue and green Sustainability.
19.30 Session 5: keynote address
Chair: Ulises Cortés , Professor of Artificial Intelligence (AI) at the UPC, and AI coordinator at the BSC
Keynote speaker: Manuela Veloso, JP Morgan and Carnegie Mellon University, USA
20.30 - Dinner and Gago Awards on European Science Policy
Tuesday, 24 October
- “Sala de Juntas”, Rectorate Building, Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya (UPC). (5-minute walking from the BSC headquarters).
9:00 - Session 6: Disease observatories: Data Hubs and Digital Twins towards “One Health”.
10.45 Coffee break
11.00 Session 7: Understanding the advanced computing infrastructure and skills required to foster Digital Observatories, and the building up and usage of adequate Digital Twins .
- Auditori, BSC Headquarters (5-minute walk from the Rectorate Building).
12:30 - Session 8: Closure
13:30 - Lunch break
15 :30 - Guided visit to MareNostrum V
GAGO AWARDS in European Science Policy
Cristina Garmendia was the Minister of Science and Innovation of the Spanish Government (2008-2011), during the previous Spanish Presidency of the Council of the EU (2010). She is currently Chairwoman of the COTEC Foundation.
She founded several companies such as the Spanish-American company, Satlantis Microsats, of which she was president until December 2020, and has recently been appointed advisor to the European Commission as a member of the Space Advisory Council of the European Union.
Cristina Garmendia was advisor to the European Commission as a member of the High Level Group on maximising the impact of EU Research & Innovation Programmes, which has formulated recommendations for the design Horizon Europe, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (2021-2027).
She was trained in Biology (University of Sevilla) and has a PhD in Molecular Biology, from the Autonomous University of Madrid, Centre for Molecular Biology Severo Ochoa (CBMSO).
Andreu Mas-Colell is Professor Emeritus of Economics at Pompeu Fabra University. He is also a BSE Emeritus Research Professor.
He hold several government positions, including Minister of Economy and Knowledge of the Government of Catalonia (2010-2016), Secretary General of the European Research Council (2009-2010), Minister of Universities, Research and the Information Society of the Government of Catalunya (2000-2003), and Commissioner for Universities and Research of the Government of Catalonia (1999-2000).
Andreu Mas-Colell was professor of economics at Harvard University (1981-1996) and of economics and mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley (1972-1980). He was also president of the Scientific Advisory Committee of Telefónica Investigación y Desarrollo (2005-2008).
His was trained as Economist at the University of Barcelona, and he has a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota.
Mateo Valero is the Director of Barcelona Supercomputing Center, the Spanish national supercomputing centre, since 2004. He is Full professor of Computer Architecture at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC) since 1983, and visiting professor at ENSIMAG, Grenoble (France), and at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He was Chair of the Computer Architecture Department (1983-1984; 1986-1987; 1989-1990 and 2001-2005) and Dean of the Computer Engineering School (1984-1985).
His research focus on computer architecture, with special emphasis on high performance computers: processor organization, memory hierarchy, systolic array processors, interconnection networks, numerical algorithms, compilers and performance evaluation.
Mateo Valero is author of more than 700 publications, He was involved in the organization of more than 300 International Conferences as General Chair (11), including ICS95, ISCA98, ICS99 and PACT01, Steering Committee member (85), Program Chair (26) including ISCA06, Micro05, ICS07 and PACT04, Program Committee member (200), Invited Speaker (70), and Session Chair (61). He has given over 400 talks in conferences, universities and companies.
He has participated in 35 European ESPRIT, RACE and COMETT projects (for some of these projects, he was instrumental in obtaining the participation of Spanish industry), 20 Spanish CICYT projects (similar to NSF projects) and 13 projects with American companies as IBM, Intel, HP and Microsoft.
From 1990 to 1995 he created and directed the European Center for Parallelism of Barcelona (CEPBA) performing basic and applied research in parallel computing. He was also the director of C4, the Catalan Center for Computation and Communications, during 1995-2000. Since October 2000 to 2004, he has been the director of CIRI, the CEPBA-IBM Research Institute, created to conduct research on parallel computers.
He was trained as a telecommunication engineer, at the Technical University of Madrid (UPM) and has a Ph.D. in Telecommunications (Polytechnic University of Catalonia).
Carmen Vela was the Secretary of State of Investigation, Development and Innovation (2012-2018). Since 2018, she is Director of Collaborative Projects Eurofins Technologies-INGENASA, as she has extensive experience in immunology, virology, and related areas. Since 2019 she is member of the Board of the Mission Soil Health and Food. She is also member of the Scientific Board of the EJP Soil.
In 1982 she joined INGENASA, (Inmunología y Genética Aplicada), a biotechnology company, created by the National Institute of Industry and moved to the Centre of Molecular Biology Severo Ochoa, in the Autonomous University of Madrid. She worked for the project CBM/Ingenasa, devoted to the development of vaccines and diagnostics for the virus of the African swine plague. President and CEO of the company (1994-2012).
She is author of numerous scientific publications and has patents approved in United States and Europe. She was president of the Association of Women Researchers and Technologists (AMIT). From 2010 until 2012 she was also president of the Spanish Society of Biotechnology (SEBIOT).
Carmen Vela background is in biochemistry (Complutense University of Madrid).
Anna Omedes Regàs
Anna Omedes Regàs is an exceptional leader in the world of scientific museology, science communication and museography. She is the former director of the Museum of Natural Science of Barcelona, with a background in Biology (Autonomous University of Barcelona) and a PhD in Animal Behaviour (University College of Wales, UK, 1981), she has made significant contributions to the field of bioacoustics and acoustic communication of primates.
In 1997 Anna Omedes became director of the Museum of Zoology of Barcelona and perseveringly promoted it to create in 2008, together with the Geology Museum and the botanical gardens of the city, the Natural Science Museum of Barcelona. She led its strategic plan with inclusiveness at the core, the launch of a new headquarters, as well as the creation of a consortium between the Barcelona City Council and the Generalitat de Catalunya to manage the Museum.
She was instrumental in the foundation of the Spanish Association of Science and Technology Museums and Centers, presiding it since 2017. She has also been a member of the board or advisory committees of several institutions and networks such as the Catalan Council for Scientific Communication, the Barcelona Zoo Foundation, the Natural and Cultural Heritage Campus of the University of Girona, the International Committee of the World Biological Corridor and the Monitoring Committee of the ADN Pyrenees project, and still is of the Social Council of the Institute of Marine Sciences (CSIC) and of the Scientific Council of Universcience in Paris. From 2016 to 2020 she was Vice President of the European Network of Science Centers and Museums (Ecsite). In 2022 she received the Beacon of the Year from Ecsite.
She is author of articles and books and speaker in courses and conferences on museology, museography, science communication and bioacoustics; curator of exhibitions; and scientific advisor for biological and museum publications.
Anna Omedes’ talent for communication and dedication has helped her reach the most demanding of audiences: children. She has written several books for them, and her latest masterpiece, Historias de Colores (Colourful kingdom), creatively combines scientific rigour with enchanting illustrations.
Anna’s vision of science engagement organisations as citizen labs, has revolutionised the concept of science centres and museums. By emphasising participatory methods and engaging citizens in research and social innovation projects, she envisions science institutions playing a key role in addressing societal challenges such as climate change, pollution, biodiversity loss and social exclusion.
Per-Edvin Persson began his academic journey by earning a Master of Agriculture and Forestry degree from the University of Helsinki in 1974, followed by a Doctor of Agriculture and Forestry degree in 1981, specializing in limnology. His expertise in this field earned him the position of Adjunct Professor of limnology at the University of Helsinki in 1981. He has authored over 50 scientific publications and over 200 popular articles, including several articles on science centres and museums; and he has overseen the creation of four scientific monographs. He served on the Board of the Academy of Finland, the Finnish research council system, in 1992-1994 and was a member of the Nordic Science Policy Council, based in Copenhagen, in 1983-1988. Professor Persson’s commitment to science education is evident in his roles as Director of Science at Heureka, the Finnish Science Centre, from 1987 to 1991, and later as its director from 1991 to 2013. Under his leadership, Heureka rose to become a globally acclaimed science centre known for its groundbreaking interactive exhibitions.
Per-Edvin Persson has held prominent positions in numerous national and international organisations. He served as the President of the Nordic Science Centre Association (1987-1991) and later assumed the presidency of the European network of science centre and museums, ECSITE (1997-1998). His dedication to advancing science education transcended borders, as he became the President of the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) in Washington, D.C. in 2004-2005. He initiated the series of global science centre meetings known as World Congresses of Science Centres and chaired the first one in Finland in 1996.
He has been awarded the Finnish State Prize of Information twice, in 1987 and 2014, the Oskar von Miller gold medal from Deutsches Museum in 2002, and the ASTC Fellow Award for Outstanding Contribution to the field in 2007. He received the prestigious ASPAC President’s Award for his significant contributions to the Asia Pacific Network of Science-Technology Centres in 2014. His passion and dedication to promoting science education have made him an Honorary Fellow of ECSITE in 2013 and the Nordic Science Centre Association in 2015.
Professor Persson’s impact extends beyond the realm of science education. He has been knighted as a 1st-grade Knight of the Order of the White Rose of Finland and is a Knight of the National Order of Merit in France. These honours reflect his lifelong commitment to advancing knowledge and inspiring generations.
Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (CCCB)
Rectorate Building, Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya (UPC)