Aspen Technology & Society Program
The Public Policy Programs of the Aspen Institute Romania seek to improve the formation of policy through transparent, non-partisan, evidence based, multiple stakeholders’ dialogue.
Written by Aspen Institute
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 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 2023:
- closed door thematic roundtables engaging decision-makers, representatives of regulatory bodies, private stakeholders and non-governmental and academic sectors, issuing relevant policy recommendations.
- The first roundtable, on the topic The Digital Transformation of the Administration: Where Do We Start?, was organized together with the National Institute for Administration, in partnership with the Committee for information technologies and communications and the Committee for Public Administration and Territorial Planning in the Chamber of Deputies, Romanian Parliament. The roundtable took place on April 5th, 2023, at the Romanian Parliament, and represented the first step toward creating, together with all relevant stakeholders, a Guide for the digital transformation of the public administration in Romania.
- The second roundtable will take place in September, 2023 (TBD).
- A three-day Trans-Atlantic Socrates Seminar, focusing on contemporary challenges faced by leaders in the technology and defense & security sectors, taking place in Brussels for the second time on June 12th – 14th, 2023. Participants, including key public sector representatives, will debate topics revolving around The Future European and Global Architectures:
The Nexus between Resilience, Security & Innovation.
- A Plenary Panel at Bucharest Forum 2023, on topics of interest to Program Partners.
- Digitalination, a podcast series developed in partnership with Upgrade 100, disseminating topical conversations between Radu Puchiu and relevant public and private sector guests on the digital transformation in Romania and the world.
- A Program White Paper based on the recommendations of the thematic roundtables.
2023 Program Partners: Microsoft, Vodafone, UiPath, eMAG.
Program Track Record
- A Digital First set of principles and collaborative framework, for the Romanian public administration, developed in partnership with key public and private sector stakeholders.
- Four editions of the Trans-Atlantic Socrates Seminar, two of which in Brussels.
- Program panels at Bucharest Forum since 2020, as well as other high-level events organized in partnership with public institutions.
- Digital Security Dialogue: Networks = Critical, conference organized in partnership with the National Authority for Administration and Regulations in Communications (ANCOM) and with the support of the National Cyber Security Directorate (DNSC), on the margins of the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference 2022 (PP-22), at the Palace of Parliament, Bucharest, on September 24th, 2022.
- Over 10 thematic, in-person roundtable meetings and webinars (during the pandemic), on topics of interest to Program Partners, focused on policy recommendations.
- 7 podcast episodes in the Digitalination format, since 2022.
- White Paper on Accelerating the Digital Transformation of the Public Sector in Romania.
An archive of our activities in the Program can be found HERE.