Science in society

How scientific choices need to be made, bearing in mind the effect it could have to society

All good things come to an end

The Cambridge Analytics scandal has shown that the work of scientists is not neutral. The work of psychologists who designed the questionnaire aimed at profiling Facebook users might have been stellar work in its own right, within the standards of the field.  But the way the answers to the questionnaire were later used for the purpose of influencing the political choices of the Facebook users who took the questionnaire, is--to say the least--questionable. This scandal is a case in point to show that there is no better time to continue the dialogue of the role of scientists in society. After 5 years working as Editor of EuroScientist, I would like to announce that I am now moving on to pastures new. Read more [...]

Trusting science in an age of distrust

The trend against Experts and a public loss of trust in science have recently made headlines. For example, they translated as tweets questioning man-made climate change by the current US president. Or statements such as ‘I think that the people of this country have had enough of experts’ by Bristish politician Michael Gove during the Brexit campaign. But is such a shift in public attitudes towards science actually taking place? And if so, who exactly has lost trust in whom? In this opinion piece, the results of three national surveys on public perception and trust in science from Germany, Sweden and Switzerland are outlined and give us some answers. It makes for some fascinating reading! Read more [...]

Shrinking the digital divide

Computers and digital technologies are being incorporated into all aspects of life. Yet not everyone is able to seamlessly use the web, computers, tablets, smart-phones, electronic ticket machines and even some digital-based home appliances. This is particularly true for those who experience disability, literacy, digital literacy or ageing-related barriers to accessing information and communication technologies (ICT). We need to ensure that all of us are able to operate these digital technologies or we will exclude those who cannot from all these aspects of our life. Now, a new initiative, called Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure, seeks to set up an open development community to solve this problem. Read more [...]

Shawn Jensen: GDPR is about giving citizens control over personal data

In this exclusive interview with Shawn Jensen, CEO of data privacy company Profila, EuroScientist editor finds out about the implications of the regulations for citizens and for researchers. Part of the discussion discusses the ins and out of giving consent, in an era where any organisations holding data is required to ensure that individual data is used appropriately. Read more [...]

Media in the age of Artificial Intelligence

On 21st November 2017, the European Parliament Science and Technology Options Assessment (STOA) office hosted its annual lecture, chaired by Eva KAILI, MEP and STOA Chair and introduced by Carlos MOEDAS, European Commissioner for Research, Science & Innovation. The Keynote Lecture: How AI and algorithms manage flows of information was delivered by  Nello Cristianini, professor of Artificial Intelligence, at the University of Bristol, UK. Read more [...]

Claudius Gros: Increased Government’s reactivity can mitigate social instability

In this exclusive interview, EuroScientist Editor, Sabine Louët, speaks with German physicist Claudius Gros about the insights that complex systems bring into our society, which help in understanding their deficiencies in terms of how decisions are made. Gros’ analysis is based on the observation that citizens’ opinions—supported by mobile phones and internet technology—are now forming faster than ever before, relative to the time scale of policy decision making. This suggests the need to introduce necessary changes in the modes of governance, to enhance the reactivity of policy decisions, as means to keep our democratic societies steady. These findings have potential implications for an à la carte EU membership. Read more [...]

Fake news: unobservant audiences are easily swayed

Fake news is everywhere. Science-related pseudo facts have taken over the gossip sites and social media. And we are only at the beginning of an uphill battle to set the record straight. In this contribution, Melissa Hoover, shares her investigation on how people's response to fake news makes it easier for such inaccurate stories to propagate at a rate that is way more important than fact-based news. And here is why... Read more [...]

The importance of accurate online medical information and what you can do about it

It is common for people to search for health information online. Indeed over 60% do so per year, and only 2% of them will use sites requiring payment. Searches range from specific questions about drugs and procedures, to how to interpret test results. More than half state that the information they found influenced a medical decision, and over a third don’t follow up their internet searches by consulting a doctor. The accuracy of free online medical information is therefore pretty important for public health. Of the competing free sources online, traffic to Wikipedia’s heath content is the highest (with only the American NIH coming close). And it’s not only the general public. Unsurprisingly, Wikipedia’s medical pages are used by 95% of medical students, but also over by half of practicing clinicians. Read more [...]