Based on the Aspen Method, our programs offer public decision makers, private stakeholders and representatives of the non-governmental and academic sectors an exceptional platform for reflection, aiming to reach consensus on concrete policy recommendations in Romania’s most relevant policy fields. By engaging with public decision makers from the start of the reflection process, in an informal and informed dialogue, mutual ownership of our policy recommendations is fostered.

Technological innovations are reshaping industries and disrupting existing businesses and operating models. However, technology also has a powerful impact on citizens, shaping society and presenting a series of opportunities and challenges for policymakers and businesses. On the one hand, global trends such as artificial intelligence, e governance solutions, as well as automation and data exchange in manufacturing, bring numerous social and economic benefits to the citizens of countries and regions able to profit from these technological innovations. On the other hand, the risks inherent to digital transformations are increasing. Technology related threats require adequate measures in the field of cyber security ensuring the long-term conditions based on which stakeholders could improve awareness and knowledge throughout society, reducing its vulnerability and raising its resilience. Furthermore, automation will unleash massive shifts in the labor force, leaving policymakers with tough choices. Estimates of job losses due to digitalization run as high as 2 billion worldwide by 2030, according to a report by the World Economic Forum¹.

Romania needs to be able to adapt and adopt coherent policies starting in the field of education, in order to profit from these new opportunities and mitigate negative spillovers, thus turning out to be a net beneficiary of technological innovations. The digital impact on society was accelerated by the COVID-19 crisis. The need for digital transformation of the public sector becomes critical, working from home, digital platforms for learning are a reality faster than foreseen. The up-skilling or re-skilling of jobs are more and more important in a post-crisis economic uncertainty period.

In this context, Aspen Technology Society Program created a platform for debate and a dedicated program community comprising multiple stakeholders from the public, private, academic and non-governmental sectors, interested in subjects covering technological developments and their impact on society, aiming to:

  • Create a community which can provide advisory support with regards to various technology related or technology impacted domains.
  • Contribute to public sector policies, frameworks and strategies about key domains that will be significantly impacted in the future by the fast evolution of technology.
  • Contribute to the development of strategic sectors in Romania, stimulating the creation of new jobs, mitigating social risks and increasing the country’s competitiveness, in the context of fast evolution of technology.

The topics addressed under the framework of the Program include: 

  • Resilience in the context of technology-related threats: 

– Cyber security, Big Data and Data Analytics as resilience infrastructure;
– Telecommunication infrastructure as critical infrastructure;
– Including transparency, resilience and digital as default when drafting public policy measures. 

  • AI, Automation & Technology, focusing on: 

– The impact of technology, use of robotics and artificial intelligence on business;
– The impact of technology on the public sector ensuring business continuity in the face of crisis and fostering its potential digital transformation;
– The impact of technology on society, especially in combating the COVID-19 effects. 

  • Economy and education, focusing on: 

– The impact of technology on the education curricula (STEM);
How technology can help our economy survive the crisis and provide means for recovery;
– Re-skilling the workforce in order to adapt to new technologies and new economical context and possible solutions for narrowing the digital gap.

The 2020 Program Edition benefited from the valuable support of the following Program Partners: Microsoft, Vodafone and UiPath. In 2021, the Program also benefits from the support of Modex. The policy related aspects of the Program are being coordinated by Radu Puchiu (Aspen Technology & Society Program Director).

The following deliverables are being carried out in 2020/2021:

  • closed door thematic workshops engaging decision-makers, representatives of regulatory bodies, private stakeholders and non-governmental and academic sectors, issuing relevant policy recommendations.
  • The first workshop, on the topic Digital FirstHow to Ensure the Digital Transformation of the Public Sector, was organized as a closed-door webinar on July 23, 2020, and debated a set of principles underpinning a Digital First policy for the Romanian public administration.
  • The second workshop, Digital First – a collaborative framework for developing a public policy for the digital transformation of public administrations, was organized as a closed-door webinar on February 25, 2021, and continued the debate on the Digital First set of principles and collaborative framework.
  • The Digital First set of principles and collaborative framework were presented in a public setting in a webinar on June 24, 2021.
  • Program White Paper based on the recommendations of the thematic workshops;
  • three-day Trans-Atlantic Socrates Seminar, focusing on contemporary challenges faced by leaders in the technology and defense & security sectors, was organized online on October 5 – 7, 2020. Participants, including key public sector representatives, debated how the West can improve its resilience and remain competitive in the security and technological challenges of the next decades.
  • A Plenary Panel at Bucharest Forum 2020, on the topic of “Lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic: the impact of technology, digitalization and de-bureaucratization” (in partnership with Aspen Institute Germany), on October 14, 2020 (online).

In addition, in the margins of the program, AIR also organized a webinar on the Ethics of Data on Thursday, 14 May, between 16:30 – 18:00, in partnership with the Bucharest Office of the German Marshall Fund of the United States and True Story Project. The report of the event can be found here.