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Executive Summary

Since its conception, the FIDIS Network of Excellence (NoE) has addressed, from a multidisciplinary perspective, a broad range of topics and issues relating to the many facets of identity. Being largely academic in nature and funded by the European Commission, the majority of this work has aimed at enriching the knowledge of the academic disciplines, and informing legislators and policy makers. Whilst there is clear and evident value in this approach, it is also recognised that communication must take place at a number of different levels if the full potential of the NoE is to be realised.

While academic rigour remains of the highest importance, significant findings and insights need to be made accessible to a wider audience. Here we present a ‘gateway document’, which aims to distil some of the more complex concepts addressed by the FIDIS consortium into an easily digestible form which, while reaching a wider community, links through to more scholarly FIDIS deliverables. Although there is a target audience for this work, the use of scenarios and case studies have already been successfully utilised in previous FIDIS work to help foster academic discussion around specific topics. Indeed such an approach is highly appropriate in a multidiscipline environment such as FIDIS to aid communication between heterogeneous partners. As such, this visualisation tool may well also serve to help expose new areas in which potential interdisciplinary collaboration between partners could further occur during and beyond the FIDIS NoE.

‘Emerging technologies’ is an area which pervades all of the work packages into which the work of FIDIS is separated and clustered. This demonstrates the importance of WP12 which tries to further develop the FIDIS work in this area, and equally the importance of understanding the potential impact which emerging technologies may have. While a relatively formalised description of emerging technologies has emerged over the last few years, i.e. the result of the convergence of nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology, cognitive science, robotics, and artificial intelligence, within FIDIS the term is considered to be broader. We have defined this as (identity related) technologies or applications whose practical usage is still far behind its potential. Such interpretation has allowed the FIDIS NoE to broaden its work into areas previously less explored.

Here we present a range of hypothetical scenarios which illustrate how emerging technologies may impact our lives in the future, within the context of identity. The time frame considered is generally within the next 20 years, although we end on two scenarios which greatly extrapolate the technology some 70 years in the future to explore the areas of human enhancement and robotics. The scenarios have all been written by members of the FIDIS NoE, and we have tried to draw these authors from various work packages within FIDIS to give a good cross-section of the on-going work. All scenarios are introduced by a background section which aims to put the story in context, and are concluded by a piece which links through to other relevant work undertaken by the FIDIS NoE.