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Unintended Side Effects of the Digital Transition: European Scientists’ Messages from a Proposition-Based Expert Round Table

Author

Listed:
  • Roland W. Scholz

    () (Department Knowledge and Information Management, Danube University of Krems, 3500 Krems an der Donau, Austria
    Department of Environmental Systems Sciences, ETH Zurich, 8092 Zurich, Switzerland)

  • Eric J. Bartelsman

    () (Department of Economics and Tinbergen Institute, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, 1081 HVAmsterdam, The Netherlands)

  • Sarah Diefenbach

    () (Department of Psychology, LMU Munich, 80539 Munich, Germany)

  • Lude Franke

    () (Department of Genetics, University of Groningen, University Medical Centre Groningen, 9700 CC Groningen, The Netherlands)

  • Arnim Grunwald

    () (Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS), Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), 76131 Karlsruhe, Germany
    Office of Technology Assessment at the German Bundestag (TAB), 10178 Berlin, Germany)

  • Dirk Helbing

    () (Department of Humanities Social and Political Sciences ETH Zurich, 9092 Zurich, Switzerland)

  • Richard Hill

    () (Hill & Associates, 1207 Geneva, Switzerland)

  • Lorenz Hilty

    () (Department of Informatics, University of Zurich, 8050 Zurich, Switzerland
    Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA), 9014 St. Gallen, Switzerland)

  • Mattias Höjer

    () (Division of Strategic Sustainable Studies, Department of Sustainable development, Environmental Science and Engineering, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, SE-10044 Stockholm, Sweden)

  • Stefan Klauser

    () (Department of Humanities Social and Political Sciences ETH Zurich, 9092 Zurich, Switzerland)

  • Christian Montag

    () (Department of Molecular Psychology, Institute of Psychology and Education, Ulm University, 89069 Ulm, Germany
    SCAN Laboratory, Clinical Hospital of the Chengdu Brain Science Institute and Key Laboratory for Neuroinformation, University of Electronic Science and Technology of China, Chengdu 611731, China)

  • Peter Parycek

    () (Center of Competence Public IT at Fraunhofer FOKUS, 10589 Berlin, Germany
    Department for E-Governance and Administration, Danube University Krems, 3500 Krems an der Donau, Austria)

  • Jan Philipp Prote

    () (Production Management Department, Laboratory for Machine Tools and Production Engineering (WZL), RWTH Aachen, 52056 Aachen, Germany)

  • Ortwin Renn

    () (Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS), 14467 Potsdam, Germany)

  • André Reichel

    () (International School of Management (ISM), 70180 Stuttgart, Germany)

  • Günther Schuh

    () (Production Management Department, Laboratory for Machine Tools and Production Engineering (WZL), RWTH Aachen, 52056 Aachen, Germany)

  • Gerald Steiner

    () (Department Knowledge and Information Management, Danube University of Krems, 3500 Krems an der Donau, Austria)

  • Gabriela Viale Pereira

    () (Department for E-Governance and Administration, Danube University Krems, 3500 Krems an der Donau, Austria)

Abstract

We present the main messages of a European Expert Round Table (ERT) on the unintended side effects ( unseens ) of the digital transition. Seventeen experts provided 42 propositions from ten different perspectives as input for the ERT. A full-day ERT deliberated communalities and relationships among these unseens and provided suggestions on (i) what the major unseens are; (ii) how rebound effects of digital transitioning may become the subject of overarching research; and (iii) what unseens should become subjects of transdisciplinary theory and practice processes for developing socially robust orientations. With respect to the latter, the experts suggested that the “ownership, economic value, use and access of data” and, related to this, algorithmic decision-making call for transdisciplinary processes that may provide guidelines for key stakeholder groups on how the responsible use of digital data can be developed. A cluster-based content analysis of the propositions, the discussion and inputs of the ERT, and a theoretical analysis of major changes to levels of human systems and the human–environment relationship resulted in the following greater picture: The digital transition calls for redefining economy, labor, democracy, and humanity. Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based machines may take over major domains of human labor, reorganize supply chains, induce platform economics, and reshape the participation of economic actors in the value chain. (Digital) Knowledge and data supplement capital, labor, and natural resources as major economic variables. Digital data and technologies lead to a post-fuel industry (post-) capitalism. Traditional democratic processes can be (intentionally or unintentionally) altered by digital technologies. The unseens in this field call for special attention, research and management. Related to the conditions of ontogenetic and phylogenetic development (humanity), the ubiquitous, global, increasingly AI-shaped interlinkage of almost every human personal, social, and economic activity and the exposure to indirect, digital, artificial, fragmented, electronically mediated data affect behavioral, cognitive, psycho-neuro-endocrinological processes on the level of the individual and thus social relations (of groups and families) and culture, and thereby, the essential quality and character of the human being (i.e., humanity). The findings suggest a need for a new field of research, i.e., focusing on sustainable digital societies and environments, in which the identification, analysis, and management of vulnerabilities and unseens emerging in the sociotechnical digital transition play an important role.

Suggested Citation

  • Roland W. Scholz & Eric J. Bartelsman & Sarah Diefenbach & Lude Franke & Arnim Grunwald & Dirk Helbing & Richard Hill & Lorenz Hilty & Mattias Höjer & Stefan Klauser & Christian Montag & Peter Parycek, 2018. "Unintended Side Effects of the Digital Transition: European Scientists’ Messages from a Proposition-Based Expert Round Table," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 10(6), pages 1-1, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:10:y:2018:i:6:p:2001-:d:152386
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Roland W. Scholz, 2016. "Sustainable Digital Environments: What Major Challenges Is Humankind Facing?," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(8), pages 1-1, July.
    2. Bart van Ark, 2016. "The Productivity Paradox of the New Digital Economy," International Productivity Monitor, Centre for the Study of Living Standards, vol. 31, pages 3-18, Fall.
    3. Christian Montag & Sarah Diefenbach, 2018. "Towards Homo Digitalis: Important Research Issues for Psychology and the Neurosciences at the Dawn of the Internet of Things and the Digital Society," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 10(2), pages 1-1, February.
    4. Polák, Petr, 2017. "The productivity paradox: A meta-analysis," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 38-54.
    5. Roland W. Scholz, 2017. "The Normative Dimension in Transdisciplinarity, Transition Management, and Transformation Sciences: New Roles of Science and Universities in Sustainable Transitioning," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 9(6), pages 1-1, June.
    6. Elinor Ostrom, 2014. "A Polycentric Approach For Coping With Climate Change," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 15(1), pages 97-134, May.
    7. Roland W. Scholz, 2017. "Digital Threat and Vulnerability Management: The SVIDT Method," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 9(4), pages 1-1, April.
    8. M. Lynne Markus & Kevin Mentzer, 2014. "Foresight for a responsible future with ICT," Information Systems Frontiers, Springer, vol. 16(3), pages 353-368, July.
    9. Masahiro Sugiyama & Hiroshi Deguchi & Arisa Ema & Atsuo Kishimoto & Junichiro Mori & Hideaki Shiroyama & Roland W. Scholz, 2017. "Unintended Side Effects of Digital Transition: Perspectives of Japanese Experts," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 9(12), pages 1-1, November.
    10. Joel Mokyr & Chris Vickers & Nicolas L. Ziebarth, 2015. "The History of Technological Anxiety and the Future of Economic Growth: Is This Time Different?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 29(3), pages 31-50, Summer.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Rok Črešnar & Zlatko Nedelko, 2020. "Understanding Future Leaders: How Are Personal Values of Generations Y and Z Tailored to Leadership in Industry 4.0?," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(11), pages 1-1, May.
    2. Gabriela Viale Pereira & Elsa Estevez & Diego Cardona & Carlos Chesñevar & Pablo Collazzo-Yelpo & Maria Alexandra Cunha & Eduardo Henrique Diniz & Alex Antonio Ferraresi & Frida Marina Fischer & Flúvi, 2020. "South American Expert Roundtable: Increasing Adaptive Governance Capacity for Coping with Unintended Side Effects of Digital Transformation," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(2), pages 1-1, January.
    3. Lajoie-O'Malley, Alana & Bronson, Kelly & van der Burg, Simone & Klerkx, Laurens, 2020. "The future(s) of digital agriculture and sustainable food systems: An analysis of high-level policy documents," Ecosystem Services, Elsevier, vol. 45(C).
    4. Sonnberger, Marco & Gross, Matthias, 2018. "Rebound Effects in Practice: An Invitation to Consider Rebound From a Practice Theory Perspective," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 154(C), pages 14-21.
    5. Kinga Hat & Gernot Stoeglehner, 2020. "Spatial Dimension of the Employment Market Exposition to Digitalisation—The Case of Austria," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(5), pages 1-1, March.
    6. Lobschat, Lara & Mueller, Benjamin & Eggers, Felix & Brandimarte, Laura & Diefenbach, Sarah & Kroschke, Mirja & Wirtz, Jochen, 2021. "Corporate digital responsibility," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 122(C), pages 875-888.
    7. Scholz, Roland W. & Czichos, Reiner & Parycek, Peter & Lampoltshammer, Thomas J., 2020. "Organizational vulnerability of digital threats: A first validation of an assessment method," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 282(2), pages 627-643.
    8. ÄŒreÅ¡nar, Rok & Nedelko, Zlatko, 2019. "Competencies as a Criterion for Assessing the Readiness of Organizations for Industry 4.0 - A Missing Dimension," Proceedings- 11th International Conference on Mangement, Enterprise and Benchmarking (MEB 2019),, Óbuda University, Keleti Faculty of Business and Management.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    digital transformation; digital curtain; digital vaulting; unintended side effects (unseens); proposition-based expert round tables;

    JEL classification:

    • Q - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics
    • Q0 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General
    • Q2 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q3 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products

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