Virtuality in Europe: Trends, Opportunities and Risks
Europe: Trends, Opportunities and Risks
23rd-26th March 2000
Heinz Nixdorf MuseumsForum
|Virtuality is becoming an important aspect and a
pervasive dimension of social life world-wide. Europe is no exception to this trend.
Besides the development of powerful simulation technology of 3-dimensional environments,
called "Virtual Reality", illustrations of this evolution include: the
setting-up of "Virtual museums" and "Virtual libraries" on the
Internet; the growing use by enterprises of the possibilities opened to employees of being
"Virtually present" at the workplace; and the expansion and growth of the
"Virtual Economy" and of "Virtual markets".
We are facing a series of technological and technology-based developments, which share a set of common characteristics: they are based on advanced information and communication technology systems; they allow access -independently of the constraints of time and space - to remote or artificial realities; they give birth, alongside the "real world", to alternative "worlds", which may be totally fictitious or may consist of unusual combinations of real and virtual elements; they rely on ways of communicating and acquiring information alternative to those based on traditional physical means.
The aim of this conference is to give an overview of these developments, assessing their impact and examining the exciting - and sometimes worrying -perspectives they open up. Major questions will include: What are the achievements already reached in this field and the foreseeable developments? How can these developments stimulate the progress of knowledge and generate wealth and welfare? What are their global economic and social impacts and their consequences for the way society functions and our conception of the world? What are the possible risks of misuse and negative effects? What forms could a "Virtual Society" take?
The conference will focus on the European aspects and dimensions of these issues: What is the situation of Europe as far as the design, production and use of Virtual-oriented technology are concerned? Do questions related to Virtuality arise in specific ways in Europe in comparison with the rest of the world, particularly the United States? Are these issues addressed differently in the various European countries? Should initiatives be taken at European level?
The debate will be organised in three sessions, following introductory speeches. The sessions will be followed by a Round Table on political aspects of these issues, where recommendations for public action in this field will be formulated.
The conference will last two days, with each of the sessions occupying half a day. Each session will include three or four presentations followed by a general discussion.
Around 100 to 150 people, from various walks of life (researchers, industrialists, specialists in education and training, economists, lawyers, philosophers, sociologists, representatives from national and European organisations in fields such as health and culture), and from different European countries, should attend the meeting.
All discussions and debates will be recorded. Presentations as well as extracts of the discussions will be published in a volume of proceedings.
The Heinz Nixdorf MuseumsForum (HNF) provides top quality conference facilities which will be used for this event. In addition, the MuseumsForum houses the largest museum in the world concerned with computers and other forms of electronic communication. Our programme will include an opportunity to visit the museum.
If you would like further information, please contact:
Ian Butterworth (London) Imperial College, Vice-President Academia
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