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 intends to create 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 will benefit from the valuable support of the following Program Partners: Microsoft, Vodafone and UiPath. The policy related aspects of the program will be coordinated by Radu Puchiu (OGP Envoy and former State Secretary in the Romanian Government).   

The following deliverables will be provided in 2020: 

  • 2 closed door thematic workshops engaging decision makers, representatives of regulatory bodies, private stakeholders and non-governmental and academic sectors, issuing relevant policy recommendations. The theme of the first workshop will be Digital First: How to Ensure the Digital Transformation of the Public Sector (to be organized in Q3, pending COVID-19 developments); 
  • A Program White Paper based on the recommendations of the thematic workshops; 
  • A three-day Trans-Atlantic Socrates Seminar (Q3 2020, date TBC) focusing on contemporary challenges faced by leaders in the technology and defense &security sectors. Participants will include relevant public sector representatives. 
  • A Plenary Panel and/or roundtable at Bucharest Forum 2020 (8-9 October), AIR’s main high level, international public event, on technology and its political, economic and social impact, where the main program policy recommendations will be presented (the exact format to be decided with Program Partners).

In addition, in the margins of the program, AIR will also organize 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.