Recherche, sciences, techniques
Cette page regroupe l'ensemble des publications de Futuribles sur cette thématique (Vigie, revue, bibliographie, études, etc.)
La Chine suscite à la fois intérêt et interrogations : considérée comme l'usine de la planète, les pays développés redoutent qu'elle les concurrence sur le terrain de la technologie. Cela rend d'autant plus intéressant la lecture du rapport que l'OCDE a consacré à la politique d'innovation en Chine.
La Bibliographie prospective du mois de novembre 2008 consacre son Focus à un rapport publié par l'OCDE sur la politique d'innovation en Chine : Reviews of Innovation Policy: China. Le bilan des réformes apparaît très contrasté : le développement de l'enseignement supérieur étant encore insuffisant et l'importante hausse des dépenses en R&D pas toujours judicieusement attribuée, bien des défis restent encore à relever. Vous trouverez par ailleurs, et comme chaque mois, une sélection de comptes rendus de livres ...
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Fluctuations in the price of the standard barrel of oil have been making headlines for several years now. In remaining at a high level in 2008 (with a peak of 150 US dollars in July), it seems to have left a marked impression on consumers, sensitizing them to the ever more imminent advent of a new energy era. Unless there is something approaching a technical revolution in this field, there is a danger that the increasing scarcity of fossil resources will appreciably raise energy costs and changed consumer habits will ensue.
Is the prospect of such a revolution plausible? Can there be scientific and technical breakthroughs in the coming years that produce improvements or new paths in energy production? Pierre Papon has examined this question. After briefly summing up the current energy situation (in a context, we should remember, of climate change), he offers a detailed overview of the various options for the exploration and use of fossil fuels, bio-fuels, hydrogen etc. He also demonstrates the potential and limits of renewables, together with the prospects for the nuclear industry. In all these fields there seems little hope of a revolution before 2030: adaptation to a context of growing scarcity of energy supplies remains, then, a pressing question. However, as Pierre Papon reminds us, we cannot rule out the emergence of a new paradigm in physics that could radically alter the situation (such as occurred, for example, with the theory of relativity); hence the indispensable research effort that must be put in by both scientists and funders.
L'Internet 2.0 offrirait, on le sait, des possibilités quasi illimitées en termes de relations sociales, d'information, d'échanges... Mais est-ce vraiment ainsi que les internautes conçoivent le monde virtuel ? À en croire certains spécialistes de l'économie de l'attention, bien au contraire, les internautes se concentreraient sur un nombre très limité de sites et d'informations.
Climate change is now a familiar subject for most of the individuals living in the industrialized countries, and no doubt a subject of growing interest in the emergent countries such as China. It arises with increasing frequency in the discussion of current affairs, when there is a significant climatic event (tornado, flood, drought etc.), international negotiations on how to deal with global warming, or scientific discussions etc.
How has this theme lodged itself in public debate? Who are the actors in that debate and how much of a part do they play? André Lebeau has examined these questions, attempting to determine how this initially highly scientific subject has over time found a foothold in economic, political and media debate.
After a brief presentation of the various actors concerned, he makes a detailed analysis of the emergence of the debate within the scientific community, particularly through the IPCC (the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). He then shows how climate change has entered economic debate, further gaining in complexity because it is so difficult to envisage its impacts or the economic solutions to it over time-periods of the order of a century. He then stresses the contribution of the media which, while giving the phenomenon visibility and hence making it a subject of interest for public opinion and the political world, do not always distinguish between what is essential and what is merely secondary. Lastly, he clarifies the current role of public opinion and of political decision-makers with regard to climate change, stressing that the process of entry into the debate and of dealing politically with climate questions is a very slow one - perhaps too slow, given the scale of the responses required.
En 2008, 88 % de la population française possèdent un téléphone portable, un chiffre en hausse de 6,6 % par rapport à 2007. Et, dans le monde, il y avait, fin 2007, environ 3,3 milliards de portables en service. Conscients de l'énorme potentiel de ce secteur, les industriels multiplient les fonctionnalités et les possibilités offertes par les téléphones portables.
Edgar Morin, who was present on video at the "Entretiens de Margaux" (26-27 September 2007) and whom we met subsequently in Paris, points out a paradoxical situation. Hierarchical organizations and institutions call for innovation and claim to manage it, yet "real" innovation remains a deviant phenomenon that emerges at the margins, arousing incredulity, if not downright hostility, unless it manages to escape these confines and turn itself into a transformative force. This paradox applies to Edgar Morin's contribution itself. He is widely recognized today, but the style of thinking he champions - the systemic thinking without which we cannot grasp the complexity of major problems - remains a minority practice by comparison with binary reductionism. The interdisciplinary approach that thinking implies is fiercely contested by the mandarins. This illustrates the difficulties encountered by all innovation. Because they cannot be confined to any single category - philosophy, sociology or history - Edgar Morin's writings still irritate a lot of thinkers and alarm many critics who operate only in terms of monodisciplinary labels. His thought goes to the very heart of the range of issues around change and innovation in a world held in check by its own self-maintained cultural drag factors.
Two days of debate on the theme of innovation were organized on 26 and 27 September 2007 at Margaux, near Bordeaux, by Oséo, a public body created to finance and support innovation in French small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and by the Regional Council of Aquitaine. These "Entretiens de Margaux", aspiring to become a "Davos of Innovation", will be held again in 2009. The aim is to lend dynamism to - and transform - innovation in France, by stimulating activity on the part of the lead actors in the field, the SMEs.
André-Yves Portnoff took part in this meeting between 200 personalities from all parts of the world and in this issue he presents a special dossier, placing the lessons of the "Entretiens de Margaux" in the context of events that have happened since and of a variety of recent works. Alongside the articles by Jean-Paul Colin, Edgar Morin, Hervé Sérieyx and Jean-François Zobrist, André-Yves Portnoff identifies the main elements of interest for France and also for Europe.
The situation is grave, he says, diagnosing a desperate shortage of technical and organizational innovation. The economic and social consequences of this could turn out to be increasingly serious, for lack of sufficient investment from the major industrial groups and for want of long-term vision in industrial matters. As a matter of the utmost urgency, a context must be created in which SMEs can express and exploit their innovativeness, and can grow to take over from the ageing large industrial groups. This involves the elimination of the many existing obstacles, more humanistic methods of management, more partnerships and, more generally, a genuine cultural revolution that breaks with excessive state centralism and a reductive Cartesianism, a revolution that has been slow to emerge in France and in the European Union.
Jean-François Zobrist has been chief executive of an SME since 1983. He runs a foundry employing 550 people, which shows that harnessing talent and will is not just a matter for the high-tech sectors and hyper-qualified executives - and that good intentions can go hand in hand with healthy accounts. FAVI, a family business based in Hallencourt in Picardy, has proved itself the world leader in copper alloy injection. It is an economic success supported by research, product innovation and, above all, the humanistic management of its employees. The keys to that success are trust, strong values rather than regulations, clearly defined aims, a margin of freedom for the employees, and objective reasons for each person to contribute personally to the collective performance.
In the current context of economic globalization, combining employment flexibility and employee security is one of the major challenges for France and Europe. Alongside the Danish route, which consists in making redundancy easier while at the same time boosting the performance of the employment agencies, the option of employer groupings can also be very attractive, both for employees and for companies. By coming together jointly to employ their workers - who operate in various companies within the group depending on the season or day of the week - the companies provide their employees with stable, open-ended employment and, at the same time, profit from the enhanced experience of these "multi-company" workers, while, at the same time, expanding their networks and increasing their synergy.
Jean-Paul Colin, a consultant and former executive of the IT giant Intel, shows here how hard it is for a rapidly growing company to retain the qualities that made it strong: namely, its capacity for innovation, and the fluidity in its decision-making circuits that enables new ideas to be implemented rapidly. Is a company doomed to decline once its size increases appreciably? Not necessarily, says Jean-Paul Colin. You have to think, above all, in terms of decision-making circuits, and not strictly in financial terms. This means you have sometimes to be open to dividing up the company structure, so as to achieve a better potential for innovation.
The era of cheap oil seems to be coming to an end and the exhaustion of fossil resources forms part of possible - if not, indeed, probable - scenarios over the next half century, as was shown by the special issue of Futuribles on "Energy Prospects and the Greenhouse Effect" of January 2006. If we add to this the need to reduce CO2 emissions in a context of global warming, it is high time, in the developed countries, to reflect on the possible alternatives to fossil fuels. In France, a team from EDF-R&D has considered this question seriously and constructed a scenario in which buildings (in the residential and tertiary sectors) will be operating without fossil fuels by the year 2050. They present their scenario here, together with the hypotheses on which it is based (and the reasons for selecting them) and the strategy required to arrive at such a point.
After reviewing the current situation of buildings in France in energy terms, the authors lay out in detail their recommendations for improving insulation, energy efficiency and the use of renewable energies in new building and renovation. They show that, by implementing the measures they advocate, France could do without recourse to fossil fuels in building without significantly increasing the demand for electricity while, moreover, reducing its CO2 emissions by 90 million tonnes per annum. Lastly, they insist that such a change could be credibly achieved by 2050: the building sector could technically do without fossil fuels thanks to energy savings, the use of a little extra electricity and biomass, and appropriate financial instruments (to incite households to invest more in this area).
Google vient de lancer le portail " Google Health ", une sorte de dossier médical centralisé appuyé sur ses services Web. Une nouveauté révélatrice des mutations qui affectent le secteur de la santé confronté aux opportunités ouvertes par Internet.
No one today denies the importance of satellite location and navigation systems - and their strategic importance in particular. The United States understood this long ago and developed an efficient system, the GPS or Global Positioning System, which is the world leader in the field by some distance. Other powers (Russia, China and Europe) have followed this lead in recent years. The European Union began to take interest in the question in the late 1990s, but the project named Galileo was not officially launched (with the appropriate structure and funding) until 2002. Beyond the technical and industrial aspects of the project, the aim is to possess genuine independence in the area of satellite location and navigation, as André Lebeau showed in this publication in February 2004.
Despite this declared ambition, the development of the Galileo programme has run up against many obstacles in the interim, particularly of a political and institutional kind, and these are described for us here by Didier Faivre, a specialist in this field within the European Space Agency. It was not until late 2007 that the European project was given the final go-ahead and concrete decisions were taken, both at the financial and programmatic levels. This article analyses the recent developments that have produced this second wind for Galileo, at the same time recalling the many related issues.
In 2004, drawing its inspiration from foreign experiences and recommendations expressed in a number of reports, the French government decided on a new departure in industrial policy, setting up competitiveness hubs across the national territory. Four years after the launch of this policy, how do matters stand with it?
Thierry Weil and Stéphanie Fen Chong from the Observatoire des pôles de compétitivité (Competitiveness Hubs Observatory) recall here the genesis of the competitiveness hubs (the precursor systems, founding reports, specifications adopted, interplay between the actors, and emergence of the hubs). They then present the first lessons arising out of the development of these hubs, particularly focusing on the operation of projects, steering and finance, and the failings and inconsistencies observed. In this connection, they stress the difficulty of making an assessment at this stage: the hubs are still young, and premature evaluations may do a disservice to projects that are, in fact, essential. Lastly, they ask how this industrial dynamic can be maintained. In their view, this involves stimulating learning on the part of the various actors concerned and, once again, a long-term vision not focussed solely on the initial outcomes observed.
Quelques mois après les « émeutes de la faim » qui ont secoué un certain nombre de pays souffrant particulièrement de la hausse des prix agricoles, le magazine de l?INRA (Institut national de la recherche agronomique) a choisi de revenir sur une question cruciale pour l?agriculture mondiale, celle de l?avenir de la recherche agronomique. Ce dossier présente notamment les résultats des derniers travaux d?Agrimonde, un projet initié en 2006 par l?INRA et le CIRAD (Centre de coopération ...
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A number of measures have been introduced in recent years to deal with the chronic deficit within the health branch of the Social Security Department, including, in 2008, exemptions in respect of certain reimbursements or medical procedures. This particular measure, which meant that certain medical expenses of insured persons were no longer to be reimbursed in full, proved controversial on grounds of unfairness. That controversy could be ended by the establishment of a national "health shield", as suggested by the High Commissioner for Active Solidarities against Poverty, Martin Hirsch.
François Ecalle lays out in this article what this "health shield" might consist in (a system in which there would be a ceiling on health expenses for the insured as a function of their incomes), it being largely inspired by the systems of Belgium and Germany. He also presents the aims of such a "shield": fairer access to care, a way of balancing the sickness insurance accounts, and a simplification of the insured's financial contribution to the scheme. Possible consequences include relatively limited redistributive effects, an undoubtedly major impact on additional insurance schemes, and a return to the basic principles of Social Security, according to which all pay according to their abilities and receive according to their needs, with no loss of efficiency in the health system. In short, François Ecalle sees it as an opportunity to be seized. And, if a rapid political decision is forthcoming, it could be in place as early as 2010.
The philosopher and historian of science Jean-Jacques Salomon, Professor at the French National Conservatory of Arts and Crafts (CNAM) and Scientific Adviser to the Futuribles group, died on 14 January 2008. Salomon was a student of Raymond Aron and Georges Canguilhem, under whose supervision he gained his doctorate (in philosophy and the history of science). After a first career in journalism, he became head of the Science and Technology Policy Division of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). He was invited to teach at a great many universities and held the chair of "Technology and Society" at CNAM, where he founded the "Science, Technology and Society" Research Centre and was its Director.
He was the author of many works, from Science and Politics (London: Pan, 1999; first published in French, 1970) to Les Scientifiques. Entre savoir et pouvoir [Scientists. Between Knowledge and Power] (Paris: Albin Michel, 2006) and Une civilisation à hauts risques [A High-Risk Civilization] (Paris: Éditions Charles-Léopold-Mayer, 2007). He also contributed countless articles, many of them to the Futuribles journal. Jean-Jacques Salomon was regarded as a great thinker of modern times, as an informed and courageous critic of scientific and technological developments, of their uses, both beneficial and perverse, and also of the essential need to re-evaluate them from ethical, philosophical, political and social standpoints.
The Futuribles journal, in the persons of Geneviève Schméder, André Lebeau and Hugues de Jouvenel, here pays homage to him. It will continue to be deeply influenced by the thinking of one of its chief contributors.
France's annual demographic statistics for 2007 were released a few months ago. They confirm the trend we have observed for some years now, if not several decades, for both men's and women's healthy life expectancy (HLE) to increase. How does this break down in detail?
André Vacheron, honorary president of the National Academy of Medicine, takes stock in this article of the French population's state of health. After a short presentation of the major demographic characteristics of France, he reminds us of the major pathologies currently affecting the French, stressing particularly the significance of the cancers and cardio-vascular illnesses, which are the leading causes of morbidity and mortality. He goes on to stress the persistence of social and geographical inequalities: the life expectancy of managerial staff and professionals at age 35 is higher than that of blue-collar workers, and health is at its poorest in the northern regions of the country (Brittany, Alsace and Nord/Pas-de-Calais).
Lastly, there is an encouraging sign so far as future developments are concerned, in that the range of efforts at disease prevention is expanding. Alongside traffic accident prevention, André Vacheron highlights the anti-smoking campaign, which has intensified in recent years, together with public action to promote a balanced diet. And he concludes that French citizens have to be made to take responsibility for their own health, in order to preserve an effective, but at times overstretched health-care system.
Internet permet d'externaliser des tâches et de les répartir entre des milliers de personnes. Ce schéma sert actuellement aussi bien à faire un marketing d'anticipation ou de l'innovation " ouverte ", à mobiliser des volontaires contre le cancer, à co-créer avec les clients, qu'à obtenir une main-d'oeuvre sous-payée dans une optique d'" e-Taylorisme " pour des travaux à faible valeur ajoutée. Le crowdsourcing porte donc les germes de nouveaux modes de production, mais aussi de création de valeur ...
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Ce rapport analyse la contribution des technologies de l'information et de la communication (TIC) à la croissance et au développement à travers l'expérience des pays en développement. Il commence par présenter de manière très synthétique l'impact des TIC sur l'ensemble de l'économie. Technologies généralistes, elles modifient radicalement l'approche de la technologie pour le développement à travers les six effets suivants : 1) leur impact économique est plus important que leur contribution directe au PIB (produit ...
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Dans quelle mesure le livre numérique conditionne-t-il l'avenir de l'édition française ? Les éditeurs eux-mêmes semblent avoir du mal à répondre à cette question et, surtout, ils se montrent pour l'instant très réticents à investir massivement dans cette technologie pas comme les autres, qui remet tout de même en cause tout un pan de l'histoire et de la culture. De plus, les lecteurs, dans leur grande majorité, sont pour l'instant réticents à l'idée d'abandonner ...
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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.