Recherche, sciences, techniques
Cette page regroupe l'ensemble des publications de Futuribles sur cette thématique (Vigie, revue, bibliographie, études, etc.)
Deux décennies après les premières transgenèses (transferts d’un gène « étranger » dans un virus ou une bactérie qui devient ainsi un OGM, organisme génétiquement modifié), cette technique s’est développée et a eu de nombreuses applications. Des plantes ou des animaux ayant reçu un gène spécifique sont utilisés pour fabriquer des protéines intéressantes comme médicaments ; des propriétés différentes, qualités nutritives, résistances aux nuisances, à des plantes ou des insectes, peuvent être ajoutées ; et grâce aux thérapies géniques, on peut suppléer ...
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Internet se déploie au niveau planétaire. Une conjonction d’avancées technologiques rapides favorisera plus encore, dans les années à venir, une mutation forte de nos usages des moyens de communication, et probablement de nos comportements voire de nos valeurs. Chaque individu devra ainsi gérer une véritable « identité numérique », constituée des contributions (sur les blogs, par exemple) et des traces qu’il laisse. Du côté des perspectives technologiques (qui ne surdéterminent pas les usages), la poursuite de la tendance à l ...
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Joël de Rosnay a proposé lors de cette table ronde ne présentation de son livre récemment publié, 2020 : les scénarios du futur. Ce livre est né d’une série de conférences destinées au grand public et faites à la Cité des Sciences de la Villette en 2006. L’année 2020 a été choisie car elle constitue un horizon temporel « atteignable », éloigné de nous de 13 ans soit l’équivalent d’une demi-génération. Cinq grands thèmes ont été abordés dans ces ...
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For several years now the theme of the decline of France, far from being new, has come back into fashion with the publication of various alarmist books. From Nicolas Baverez to Alain Minc or Jacques Julliard, to mention just a few, the "declinologists" are regularly in the news in France, highlighting how far France is lagging behind the other industrialized countries. But what exactly is this supposed lag? And lagging behind with respect to what?
Julie Bouchard, whose doctoral thesis was on this subject, shares her main conclusions with us here. Having carefully examined the rhetoric regarding French backwardness in science and technology, she shows how much the assessment of it varies with space and time, and how it serves as a means of expressing particular concerns.
She goes on to identify four main "ideal standards" in what is said about the French failure to keep up in the field of science and technology. The first is based on the idea of scientific progress for its own sake (hence the need for systematic efforts to overcome any deficiency in this regard); the second relates to interdependence, so that backwardness is defined in terms of the interdependence among disciplines or between science and society; the third is based on international comparisons; and the last relates to administrative or managerial objectives. These four standards coexist in time and space, Julie Bouchard concludes, but in recent years the main emphasis has tended to be on the last two: international comparisons and with reference to some predetermined objective.
In this article, as the French government sets out to undertake a major reform of the country's higher education system, Barbara Kehm highlights current trends in Europe in this field.
The author starts by describing the "Bologna process", which launched a new system of qualifications and a series of major reforms of higher education programmes in more than 40 European countries. She then shows how this process (started in 1999) has been combined with the Lisbon strategy (2000) with the aim of establishing by 2010 a Europe-wide system of higher education linked to plans for research and innovation.
Barbara Kehm also examines how the role of the state in the management of higher education is changing in Europe. She discusses the new forms of governance that have developed against the background of the system's problems of both funding and legitimacy, resulting in growing moves towards greater autonomy for individual institutions and more vocationally oriented courses.
Finally, Barbara Kehm looks at three key issues for European higher education: more diverse sources of funding (in order above all to cope with increased numbers of students), research and improvements in quality (via better evaluation and accreditation), and internationalization (involving both co-operation and competition). She concludes her analysis by setting out the main trends in this field for the next 10 years.
On parle depuis longtemps de télémédecine mais un concept plus large est en train d'émerger, celui d'e-santé. Les Anglo-Saxons évoquent couramment la eHealth, lui consacrent des blogs et des sites1, des articles dans les revues officielles au Canada2, des lignes de financement en Australie3. C'est qu'Internet est en train de modifier la façon dont nous gérons notre santé, ce qui dépasse la seule organisation de la médecine et ses outils. Les comportements quotidiens des gens, leurs ...
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Le nombre de blogs continue à croître très rapidement s’il faut en croire Technorati, moteur de recherche américain qui surveille plus de 70 millions de blogs et qui indexe plus d’un million de nouveaux billets chaque jour. 120 000 nouveaux blogs sont créés quotidiennement dans le monde. Quelles langues parlent ces bloggeurs ? Au quatrième trimestre 2006, le japonais avec 37%, dépassait l’anglais, 36% et le chinois 8%, alors qu’en avril 2005 l’anglais dominait avec 44 ...
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Le marché des biocarburants est aujourd'hui en plein développement parce qu'il bénéficie à de nombreux acteurs. Les constructeurs automobiles notamment se disent qu'ils n'ont pas besoin de changer leurs moteurs et peuvent continuer à commercialiser les mêmes, sans véritable rupture. Il y a un véritable engouement alors qu'il existe un certain nombre de problèmes.
Selon Xavier Carcelle, la technologie des Courants porteurs en ligne (CPL) qui permet de diffuser les données Internet sur les câbles électriques pourrait contribuer au développement des accès à Internet. Les CPL permettent d'utiliser les réseaux électriques existants et ne supposent donc pas la construction de nouvelles infrastructures. Utiliser les câbles électriques comme vecteurs de signaux numériques ouvre en outre des perspectives nouvelles pour la gestion des réseaux : au niveau domestique, la maison communicante peut devenir réalité, tandis qu ...
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Bientôt la géolocalisation des biens et personnes par satellite coûtera si peu que cette fonction sera introduite dans les portables et un grand nombre d'objets, ouvrant la voie à de nouveaux marchés, de nouvelles possibilités, à la fois positives et négatives.
Alexander King,who was born in Glasgow in 1909, died on 28 February 2007. Jean-Jacques Salomon pays his respects to this exceptional man who, in addition to his work as a scientist and the role he played as the first head of the Science and Technology Directorate at OECD (the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), was very influential in the growth of futures studies.
King was an active member of Futuribles International from the beginning; he co-founded the Club of Rome with Aurelio Peccei and became its president on Peccei's death. Like Pierre Piganiol, who also died recently, Alexander King was among the pioneers of modern futures studies. For this reason Futuribles should pay tribute to him.
The huge increase in Internet bandwidth and in the power of personal computers has made possible a new sort of digital pastime: the so-called "Massively Multiplayer Online Role-playing Games" in which thousands, if not millions, of virtual individuals, the "avatars" of real human beings, interact in an equally virtual world.
When these games first started, you were most likely to be a troll 3 metres tall with an axe and magic powers, but the virtual world most talked about today is very different. In Second Life, for instance, you are an individual, admittedly sometimes a little peculiar and able to fly, but ultimately very similar to a "real" human being: in it you can wander around, earn and spend virtual money (but that you can convert into real US dollars), you can buy clothes or a house, be sexually or politically active. It is therefore another life, a chance for a banker to become a disc-jockey, or for a civil servant to play at being a farmer or to speculate in real estate.
It is thus a social phenomenon worth studying, since the players seem very keen to re-invent themselves in another life, in some ways very similar to real life yet very different too, involving strange, uninhibited and role-playing social relations. It is possible to have several avatars in Second Life and a man can be a woman, anonymity being the best disguise. It is also a techno-social phenomenon, in that Second Life further blurs the boundaries between the real and virtual worlds, the perfect symbol of the disembodiment of places and climate (it never rains on the virtual islands), and a new indicator of the omnipresence that is so much talked about.
Finally, perhaps the most surprising aspect of Second Life is economic, whether or not it lasts: an innovative economic model is emerging, apparently creating new markets into which daring firms and entrepreneurs are throwing themselves. In this article Serge Soudoplatoff explores this hypothetical vision of future commercial transactions.
The overall French Social Security budget deficit rose to 8.7 billion Euros in 2006 (compared with 11.6 billion in 2005), and the state health insurance element is estimated at 6 billion Euros. The deficit has soared at an alarming rate over the last 10 years or so and this has led to several attempts to reform the system. The latest, in 2004, made it possible to ensure that treatments are co-ordinated and bring about an initial reduction in costs (and wastage).
The second step in the reform would require everyone to have a personal medical record (dossier médical personnel, DMP). The new system is ambitious since its aim is to provide a full medical history for each patient and improve the way treatments are co-ordinated.
However, as Patricia Siwek explains, the new arrangements raise many technical and human problems. The DMP will require organization and goodwill on the part of doctors and patients; it will not replace other medical records and patients will be able to allow certain information to be added to their DMP.
In order to work, the DMP will need to be used correctly and by as many people as possible in order to offset its cost and to improve the efficiency of the health insurance system. Patricia Siwek argues that, even if the DMP alone will not be able to solve all the problems of the health insurance system, it would at least make it more transparent and rational.
Are modern societies condemned to a mass market culture based on bestsellers and publishing phenomena like the Harry Potter books? No, that's all in the past, argues Chris Anderson in his book The Long Tail, which Geoffrey Delcroix examines here.
From now on, the markets for cultural goods are likely to operate according to the principle of the "long tail". Alongside a few bestsellers will be "niche products" with much smaller sales. Firms may henceforth find it just as worthwhile to offer a vast range of CDs, books and films as to put all their efforts into selling a handful of high-profile products.
Yet this principle will require firms to hold stocks of goods that they know will sell more slowly, which is why the Internet is a great boon in coping with the long tail. Thanks to e-commerce, it is now possible to offer an enormous range of goods on the Internet for an indefinite period at minimal cost. This concept, it must be acknowledged, ultimately also benefits consumers and promotes cultural diversity.
The rise of the knowledge economy has marked the start of a race for technological innovation that is apparently widening the "digital divide" between North and South: whereas most people living in the richest countries now have access to the information and communication technologies (ICTs), this is far from true in poorer regions, especially in the Arab world.
Kamel Touati presents here a survey of the spread of ICTs in the Arab world and explains that the region suffers from a "double digital divide". The first separates the kingdoms of the Gulf, which are richer and more advanced with regard to ICTs, from the rest of the Arab world, where access to these technologies remains a challenge. There is then a second divide, between the Arab nations and the rest of the world, associated with the lack of funding for R&D, the absence of co-ordination among nations and the often prohibitive costs of ICTs.
Consequently Arab countries have differing levels of access to the Internet and the Arabic language is little used on the Web. This situation is damaging both for the populations of these countries and for their cultural influence abroad.
The dream of making the Internet a unique space where everyone in the world can communicate on equal terms has been slow in coming true because there are many obstacles preventing some countries and their residents from benefiting from the resources offered by the Web (as Kamel Touati argues elsewhere in this issue). This can be seen, too, in the range of languages used on the Internet, which indeed appears to reflect certain geopolitical situations.
As Anne de Beer and Gérard Blanc explain here, so far the Internet seems to have reinforced the dominance of certain of the most widely spoken languages, especially English. About 72% of the websites in 2002 were in English although that was the language of only a third of the Web users.
A factor contributing to this situation has been the ASCII protocol, which was designed for English and makes it hard to use some other languages, in particular Arabic and Asian languages.
The results are less dramatic when one looks at the languages used by people to communicate with each other via the Web: they then prefer to use their mother tongue. Moreover, the recent rise of the blog, reflecting a desire to reach a smaller audience closer to the writer, could allow an increase in the range of languages used on the Internet, in particular French.
Beaucoup de nos pratiques, de nos gestes quotidiens sont en train de changer rapidement et pour les acteurs de l’offre, la relation avec le client, l’administré, le citoyen s’en trouve modifiée, déplacée dans le temps et l’espace. Le téléphone portable, les autres terminaux mobiles, les accès fixes et mobiles à Internet, mais aussi le développement du « sans contact » sont les vecteurs de cette transformation. Elle est en train de faire émerger de nouvelles pratiques : les lieux ...
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French local authorities are currently doing more and more to improve their communications infrastructures, as can be seen from the figure published in January 2007 by the Association of Cities and Local Authorities for Electronic Communications: 448 million Euros were invested in public open-access networks in 2006. But what kind of initiatives are these? There are as many forms of intervention as there are local authorities, and this diversity is a good thing.
Nevertheless, digital technologies are such an important factor in people's everyday lives, in local development and planning, and in a region's competitiveness that it would be suicidal for local authorities to make commitments in this field without a great deal of prior strategic thinking, especially given the wide range of actors involved who are powerful and in competition with each other. How can the local authorities find a way, between the state (the monopoly provider in the past), the new generation of providers and the equipment manufacturers, to create local public access to very high bandwidth networks without themselves having to finance investments that should really be the responsibility of the other actors just mentioned?
Agnès Huet and Pascal Buléon offer their view of this important issue. They do not avoid discussing either the technical debates or the selfish behaviour of some of the actors who try to make the local authorities provide funding without giving them any decision-making capacity. Hardly a week passes without some spectacular initiative somewhere in the world to improve local digital access, such as the free wi-fi offered in San Francisco by Google, but it is obvious that in this race, there will be winners and losers. The authors plead the case here that the losers in France should not be the local authorities and, ultimately, the users.
More than three billion people worldwide now possess a mobile phone and the figure could rise to six billion by 2010. The mobile phone has increasingly become a means of social interaction and not just of communication.
Manufacturers and service providers are constantly expanding the range of possibilities offered by their cell phones (access to the Internet, television, etc.), and Apple has just launched its iPhone, a combination of cell phone and iPod, among other things.
However, Gérard Blanc argues, the industry's search for new functions for cell phones should not be made without regard for what users really want from their phones. Here he offers a brief survey of the spread of mobiles around the world, especially in France, and of how they are used. He also presents the scenarios of the Seville Institute for Technological Forecasting as to possible trends in mobile telecommunications between now and 2020.
Ronald Deibert dirige le Citizen Lab, un laboratoire de recherche interdisciplinaire qui conduit l'OpenNet Initiative (ONI), lequel vise à étudier le filtrage de l'internet et les pratiques de sa surveillance par les différents Etats. Dans un article publié par la Far Eastern Economic Review, R. Deibert s'attache au contexte asiatique et au jeu constant du chat et de la souris entre les citoyens qui tentent d'accéder à l'information et les autorités qui veulent la contrôler ...
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At the European Union summit in Lisbon in 2000, the member states committed themselves to making Europe "the most competitive and dynamic economy" in the world. Seven years later, there seems little chance of achieving this objective for research by 2010. By international standards, the EU is not doing well, and is still lagging behind countries like the USA and Japan, with regard to both the amount of investment in research and the results obtained; this is even more true of innovation.
One of the reasons for this poor showing is the lack of co-ordination of research at national, intergovernmental and EU levels, argues Pierre Papon. In order to improve this situation, it is urgent for member countries to increase their spending on research and for them to do more to develop Europe-wide research programmes by combining their efforts.
The priority given to research in Europe obviously influences the scale of scientific discoveries Europe makes and hence to some extent the EU's opportunities for innovation, says Pierre Papon, but also the image that its own residents and other nations have of the EU.
The energy policies of the European Union and of its individual members all include a commitment to three main aims: limiting emissions of greenhouse gases, improving the economic efficiency of markets for energy, and ensuring greater independence with regard to energy supplies. Action on both supply and demand is required in order to achieve these goals, and influencing the demand side is particularly complicated, involving attempts to improve the energy efficiency of transport and also of buildings. This article focuses on the latter.
The authors begin by enumerating the main factors that determine the energy consumption of buildings (heating, provision of hot water, cooking and electricity supply), showing how they have changed in the course of recent decades. They then discuss the potential for energy savings in the future.
While they stress what progress is possible, they nevertheless highlight the problem that buildings, especially housing, cannot change quickly. They therefore explore what approaches to renovation might improve the energy efficiency of existing buildings.
In this age of digital television, the Internet and "unimedia", when it seems we can access everything from our own homes, is there still a future for museums? Nowadays do developments in science and technology - the uses of which are becoming increasingly controversial, the source of hopes but also of fears - generate the same enthusiasm as they did in the "golden age" when everyone had faith in progress?
And what can museums of science and technology do - with what limits and under what conditions - to inform their visitors and encourage them to take part in the dialogue between science, technology and society that is now so vital?
Dominique Ferriot retraces here how such museums have evolved or, rather, have adapted to modern needs for an understanding of the changes under way, helping people to adopt or reject the new tools and use them in ways that are often quite different from the ones for which they were designed.
Il est important pour deux raisons différentes de décrypter ce qui se cache derrière les annonces de processeurs à cœurs de plus en plus nombreux, un marché de plusieurs milliards d’euros. D’une part la bonne marche de toutes les entreprises dépend de la qualité de leur informatique et bien des spécialistes se laissent abuser, ne distinguant pas caractéristiques techniques et valeur d’usage effective ; d’autre part, il est intéressant d’observer comment se construit l’opinion dans ...
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Ce chapitre est extrait du Rapport Vigie 2016 de Futuribles International, qui propose un panorama structuré des connaissances et des incertitudes des experts que l'association a mobilisés pour explorer les évolutions des 15 à 35 prochaines années sur 11 thématiques.