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The societal transformation of our times has been strongly characterised by the digitalisation of almost all areas of life and work. Like no other development of its kind, digitalisation offers great economic and social potential which will sustainably alter our communal life. For this, we are in need of new concepts: For work organisation and industrial development, for education and mobility, but also for medicine and leisure-time activities.

Digitalisation is speeding up the pace of our lives and provides each person with massive amounts of information and possibilities for taking action. It interconnects things with each other, automates processes and thus makes human intervention unnecessary in many cases and even impossible in others. It characterises economic development and creates entirely new business segments while rendering other business models obsolete. It imposes new standards for our educational systems and interconnects people globally with each other.

Opportunities and Risks

Already today, we utilise the advantages of digitalisation daily: We are in contact with each other via communication systems that are constantly available, we order goods worldwide, utilise corresponding services and allow ourselves to be guided through the city via navigation tools. However, we are also confronted by challenges which push us to the limits of what is desirable and purposeful.

With highly efficient analytical skills and a globally aggregated knowledge base, we can, for example, substantially improve the medical consulting and treatment options for severe illnesses. However, we need to ask whether a decision on therapy should then be made by artificial intelligence? Naturally, robots and machines are supposed to enable us to avoid doing difficult and possibly dangerous physical work. Does that lead to the conclusion that there ought to be factories requiring almost no employees?
How can we design digital learning environments in such a manner that social learning is not neglected?

Technological Impact Assessment

The digitalisation opportunities are not without risks and a far-sighted addressing of consequences of the technological development is necessary from the very beginning. Only if we also devote our attention to social and societal implications will we be able to eliminate the newly created divide between those who may benefit from digitalisation and those who are detrimentally affected by the development due to a lack of competencies or opportunities.

Advising, Analysing, Promoting, Organising

At VDI/VDE-IT, experts from diverse specialised disciplines have been working for many years on all aspects of digitalisation. We support research and development for the building blocks which only then make digitalisation possible – e.g. software technology, electronic and micro-systems or communications technology and IT security.

We advise decision makers at all levels on the increasing challenges in the areas of IT security, data protection and protection of the private sphere. We provide assistance during the design of an educational landscape which enables people in all walks of life to use digital technologies in proficient and knowledgable interaction.

We implement dialogue and strategic processes which provide answers to innovation policy issues. We also conduct studies in order to analyse the requirements for and consequences of digitalisation in order to create the required decision making bases. From the work in a digitalised world to the ever closer and more complex interaction between the human being and technology; from ethical and legal issues to economic opportunities and consequences.