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[ecrea] International Conference. The Power of Information. 20-23 January 2013

Wed Nov 21 19:51:54 GMT 2012

Announcement *** UPDATE *** Call for participation *** Call for abstracts

The Power of Information

How Science and Technology can Make a Difference


International Conference

Brussels, Belgium, January 20-23, 2013

Conference website:


Update.  Golden Key Note Lectures: Don Ihde. Albert Borgmann
An ever increasing amount of information is compiled, analysed, and stored in computer networks and knowledge bases. But how can we make this information active? Or prevent it from becoming irrelevant or distressing?

How can information increase the quality of human experience? And promote innovation, security and private life?

Two world leading analysts of technology will give us their take on these issues and present a Golden Key Note Lecture.

++ Don Ihde, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY
++ Albert Borgmann, University of Montana, Missoula, MT

Both speakers are pioneers in developing an empirical perspective on technology. Their philosophy of technology has inspired scientists and industrialists, as well as politicians, philosophers, opinion leaders and the public at large.

Don Ihde studied the structure of human experience and the possible relations with technology. His article “The experience of Technology: Human-Machine Relations” (1974) and his book “Technics and Praxis” (1979) started a new North American thinking about technology in interaction with human activities.

Albert Borgmann is rooted in European philosophy. Born in Germany, he attended Heidegger’s lectures as a student at the University of Freiburg in 1957-1958. His book “Technology and the Character of Contemporary Life” (1984) became a landmark in linking the analysis of technology with an understanding of the social and political reality.

During the conference the speakers will receive the Golden Eurydice Award.

You want to submit your own short abstract? Click here.
You want to participate in the event? Click here.
For information about waivers and grants, click here.


Do we really know how information works?

Information has the power to change our lives. It can increase the quality of human experience, create new environments to realize our dreams and help us to get beyond problems that trouble our world. In the last century Western culture gradually learned to see society as an “information society”. Many are now convinced that we will all benefit from the systematic development of an “information economy”.

It is clear that the mere processing of information - and even the deployment of “Information and Communication Technologies” - does not necessarily produce the powerful “active information” that increases the quality of human experience, and opens new perspectives of action.

* Listed information. Processing of information risks to remain the mere repetition, accumulation, re-grouping and dissemination of standard information listed on paper, film or digital media. “Listed information” may originally have been active as a clarifying and inspiring input into some specific context, but when listed and moved away from its living context, it is also stripped of its clarifying and inspiring power. * Active information. When we are looking for information that is active and guides and deepens our own experience, “listed information” can only play an inspiring role after some radical “re-interpretation” or “translation” (or “transfer”) to our own context.

For several decennia and more, we are developing information-intensive activities, explicitly targeted towards a direct impact on the way we live.

* Innovation is promoted as a process that goes all the way, from information over new technologies to social change that improves the daily life of people. * Security efforts massively compile information into “intelligence systems” in order to protect people against crime and disasters. * Data protection and privacy efforts are promoting and enforcing mechanisms to avoid information reaching society in the wrong way and ultimately hindering people.

For each of these developments, we experience serious problems, opponents doubt whether the approach will ever be successful and proponents feel the need to intensify their efforts.

Focus of the conference

The conference will focus on the question whether and how a better understanding of “active information”, as distinguished from “listed information”, can increase the impact and quality of major social efforts that make intensive use of information.

The conference will organize three tracks:

    * Innovation (ICT, Biotechnology,…)
    * Security
    * Data protection and privacy.

Each track will

* bring together up-to-date insights about the success and problems of “active information”, * identify possible steps to increase the input and quality of “active information”.

Each track will be approached from a variety of different perspectives including science, engineering, and industry; policy-making and law; social studies, ethics and philosophy.

Who should attend?

* researchers in information-intensive disciplines (such as information technologies, biotechnology, security, privacy technologies,…) * social scientists, philosophers, and scholars in ethics of science and technology
    * economists
    * lawyers and legal analysts
    * decision makers and advisors in public policy
    * strategic thinkers and captains of industry
    * popular and scientific media
    * civil society groups


Topics of interest include but are not limited to the following:

1. Vertical topics. The three tracks of the conference

    * Innovation
= Information Technologies (Ambient Intelligence, Ambient Assisted Living, automation, robotics, crowdsourcing,…) = Biotechnology (genetic information, pharmaceutics, pharmacogenomics, …) = General socio-economic structure (patents, intellectual property, economic growth, employment, equal access, e-Inclusion, fair distribution of wealth,…)
    * Security
= Personal security (crime control, terrorism, intelligence building, data mining, video analytics, profiling, face recognition, hard and soft biometrics, crowd control,…) = Environmental security (natural disasters, accidents, catastrophes, earthquakes, seaquakes, prediction, risk assessment,…) = Human security (economic security, food security, health security, community security, political security,…)
    * Data protection and privacy
= Secrecy (personal information, gossip, anonymity, cryptography, identity, company secrets, social privacy,…) = Seclusion (intrusion, harassment, controlling, surveillance, cyberbullying, spam, fishing,…)
      = Tensions (accountability, transparency, Wikileaks, …)
* Any other case study that can clarify the situation in one or more of the 3 tracks.

2. Horizontal topics

    * Types of information
“Listed information” versus “active information”, raw data versus data, information versus knowledge, knowledge versus wisdom, the “data-information-knowledge-wisdom pyramid”,…
    * Ethics and information
Facts versus values, benefit of information, value-laden facts, dual use,…
    * Philosophy and information
Embodied information, tacit knowledge, non-verbal paradigms, semantics, pragmatics, hermeneutics, M. Heidegger, P. Ricoeur, analytical philosophy, non-objectivity of information, Cl. Shannon,… * Any other topic that can clarify the situation of active information (relevance, problems with availability or quality, success stories,…)


As a participant you will learn about the relevance and problems of “active information” in the context of innovation, security and data protection. You will be able to get feedback about own opinions from other participants and speakers. You will develop a better understanding of how “active information” can be promoted in other contexts.
(To register: please read the information on the conference website.)

As a speaker you can present your professional approach or the results of your own research to international colleagues from different disciplines. You will get feedback from international colleagues. You can add links to your own work to the Strategy Document that will be finalized during the conference.

(To become a speaker, please send an abstract with your planned contribution to (abstracts.TBM2013 /at/ See more information below or on the conference website.)

Waivers for Coordinators of EU projects & Grants

The European Commission has provided a budget that allows waiving the registration fee (including conference material, meals, and coffee breaks during the conference) for participants and speakers who are

* coordinators of EU-funded projects addressing the social context of information-intensive research * leaders of work packages that address the ethical, social or legal aspects within a large-scale technological project.

A limited number of hotel grants and travel grants is available.

(To apply for a grant send an e-mail with relevant information to (grants.TBM2013 /at/

Important Dates

5 December 2012: Deadline for submission of abstracts
19 December 2012: Acceptance notification
8 January 2013:  Formatted abstract


Participants who want to present a lecture are requested to submit an abstract (of up to 1500 words) to (abstracts.TBM2013 /at/

Abstracts are structured in three separate sections (a) the problem addressed, (b) the contribution of the applicant (c) the relevance of the problem and the contribution to the conference.

Identification data must be submitted on a separate page to allow for blind reviewing. Identification data include name, institution and contact information of the principal author and,– if applicable – information about the other authors and the research context.

Abstracts are preferably a targeted dissemination of on-going research or a targeted clarification of relevant professional activities.

Before submitting, please check more details here.

Scientific Committee

Guido Van Steendam (General Chair)
Professor KULeuven, Director IFB,
Leuven, Belgium

Syun Tutiya
Professor, National Institution for Academic Degrees and University Evaluation,
Tokyo, Japan

Cameron Richards
Professor, UTM Perdana School of Science, Technology and Innovation Policy,
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Ben Prickril
International Programs Officer, National Cancer Institute, NIH,
Rockville, MD, USA

Maurizio Salvi
Head of the Secretariat of the European Group on Ethics (EGE),
Member of the Bureau of European Policy Advisors (BEPA),
European Commission

Ruth Chadwick
Professor, Director Cesagen,
Lancaster, UK

Juliet Lodge
Professor, Director Jean Monnet European Centre of Excellence,
Leeds, UK

Stefano Rodotà
Professor, La Sapienza,
Rome, Italy


The Conference is co-financed by the European Commission, DG Research,
Directorate Science, Economy and Society, Project Officer: Lino Paula,
Grant: ICTethics 230368

More information: (chair.TBM2013 /at/
Network secretariat: The IFB, Craenendonck 15, B-3000 Leuven, Belgium.

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