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08: The Reassuring Habitat

Breakout / Working Group
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What about security in our globalized world? The yearning for more security in our increasingly complex world and innovative solutions for coping with it
Trust and security are becoming increasingly important for people in our globalized world. Globalization does not only take place “outside”; our own personal environment is also being globalized, with our real surroundings being expanded by virtual Internet space. How do we live in this new habitat, how is it defined and how can we feel comfortable in it? Can virtual space offer security and trust that can be transferred to our real environment, or is it necessary for our real space to become a new protective zone for enabling us to move within the virtual space? Will human beings carry on adapting to communications technologies or will there be a new trend towards more humane technologies that give people security? Will there be a new “digital gap”? Who will remain behind?


Senior researcher at the Institute of Technology Assessment, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna Abstract
Reassuring habitats  rearrested inhabitants?

In the first part of this contribution some of the underlying trends and hypotheses of the general theme of this working group will be reflected critically. E.g., what does globalisation mean, for which aspects is it justified to speak about globalisation, for which not? Is globalisation inevitably leading to less security or is this trend used to support the interests of specific groups? What could explain the yearning for more security; is it based on objective facts or nourished by parties benefiting from a subjective societal feeling of insecurity? Who is meant when stating that  our own personal environment is being globalised; does this assertion also hold for the (global) population in general? In which ways is our world becoming increasingly complex; why is the larger complexity treated as threat and not as chance? Is the complexity as such or rather the desire for simple answers the problem?

In the second and main part the question whether technology will continue to enforce adaptation by human beings or will be designed to fulfil human needs will be addressed on basis of the future paradigm of information technology. In the years to come the paradigm of pervasive computing will increasingly change from a vision to realistic technical options. Ubiquitous or pervasive computing, promoted also as ambient intelligence in Europe, promises to create habitats in which the distinction between real and virtual is blurring, information technology being integrated invisibly into everyday living and working environments. The inhabitants of such intelligent environments shall be taken care of in an unobtrusive, nevertheless pervasive and permanent manner. The first price to be paid for the offered security and convenience would obviously be privacy, as these environments resemble rather visions of  Benthams Panopticum than habitats in which autonomous and self-determined human beings live in. In the long run the price may be much higher as privacy is a precondition for human dignity, freedom and democratic development.

A central issue is therefore whether technology is an appropriate answer to the yearning for more security, and if so, how can the drawbacks be minimised? A further principal question concerns the adaptation of humans to technology or vice versa; here again assertions about inescapable tendencies need to be thought over to avoid technology determinism, both in minds and in reality. Technology assessment certainly needs not necessarily become technology arrestment, however, as technology is becoming increasingly powerful in terms of surveillance and control of human activities, a cautious and human centred approach in technology development and deployment is certainly needed for humans not to become the prisoners of technology and of particular interests promoting and influencing its development.
Spokesperson, International Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna Abstract
Nuclear Habitat: the responsibility to communicate both reassuring and frightening messages

The presentation will highlight four major stories from the point of view of an IAEA spokesperson that reflect, on one hand, a growing public acceptance of nuclear power as an energy source and, by contrast, a growing fear that nuclear terrorism and proliferation could irreversibly change the world as we know it.

2001: Although warnings of nuclear terrorism were sounding for decades, the alarm only became loud after the suicide terrorist attacks of 9/11 prompted the realization that nuclear facilities could also have been the target. With radiological and nuclear material no longer seen as self-protecting, a dirty bomb attack suddenly became inevitable and a terrorist strike with a stolen nuclear weapon entered the realm of possibility. Did the IAEA s messages reassure, or scare?

2002: One of the legacies of the break-up of the Soviet Union was the scattering of hundreds of abandoned radioactive sources, many of them powerful and dangerous. Scrap peddlers stripped the protective shielding and the bare sources, picked up for value or out of curiosity, caused severe radiation burns, sickness and in some cases, death. The IAEA Illicit Trafficking Data base recorded hundreds of cases of lost and stolen sources. Could terrorists also be in the market? What did the IAEA do and say to help?

2002/2003: In the early 1960s John F. Kennedy predicted that "by 1970 there may be ten nuclear powers instead of four, and by 1975, fifteen or twenty. 40 years later, there were eight. But actions by North Korea to kick out IAEA inspectors and withdraw from the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, coupled with the discovery of an 18-year clandestine nuclear programme in Iran, raised fears that unless stopped, the nuclear non-proliferation regime would collapse and Kennedy s prediction would quickly unfold. Is the IAEA waving a red flag?

2006: The  nuclear power renaissance begins just as the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear accident was marked, with the media reporting varying views of the consequences. A major scientific study by eight UN organizations and the three affected countries found the health effects to be less extensive than most predictions reflected in the media and in the public mind. Meanwhile a new generation of more inherently safe and proliferation-resistant nuclear power plants are being designed. Is nuclear power making a comeback?
Founder, ROOS Office for Cultural Innovation Trends & Futures; Founder & Director, European Futurists Conference Lucerne Abstract
The Virtual Room becomes Home  Two Paradoxes

Modern communications technologies make physical mobility superfluous  and yet we are increasingly on the go. This is where we see the first paradox: According to a study by the Future Foundation, 46 percent of Europeans today perform their jobs at least occasionally from home. The share of purely home workers of 8.6 percent today will rise to 80 percent by 2020 (figures: Great Britain). In the meantime, online shopping possibilities exist in many cities  home delivery services bring fresh milk and juicy steaks to our doors. And fun and entertainment are available for the home computer via broadband. In other words, there is no reason to leave the house anymore. And yet we will continue to be on the move, because mobility  in the words of Trendbüro Hamburg  "& is the basis of modern lifestyle that promises self-realization and recognition." Mobility has become lifestyle. It has been indelled in our brains  nowadays the modern European covers as many kilometers as in the past, when people were still hunters and gatherers (28 kilometers, Swiss figures).

The virtual room will eventually replace the heretofore geographically defined home for modern nomads. To move around within foreign rooms that are always the same virtual surroundings, they become intimate, familiar, set up according to one's own needs  and thus provide security. An example is the mobile telephone, one observes how it is used: dear ones are always here, one's feel-good contacts are available in the telephone book, lovers exchange sweet nothings by text message; experiences are collected in stored images that enlarge one's memory; short films seize the moment and allow special greetings to the nearest and dearest. Meanwhile the mobile phone, omnipresent, easy to use, has replaced the wallet as the most important implement that is carried around by everyone and may not be lost under any circumstances.

When mobile broadband access comes in the next few years and when foldable and rollable screens are ready for the market, the Internet will be used more via the mobile phone and will also promote a feeling of home. The environments on the Internet are familiar  and with Web 2.0 applications such as Flickr, Wikipedia and Google represent both diary and orientation at the same time.

Will we really use all that? A second paradox is emerging: We will use it when we no longer think about technology, computer or virtuality; when we have a similarly easy access to the virtual room as we have to a light switch in the rooms that we live in. "Technology is our word for stuff that doesn't work yet," the British science fiction author Douglas Adams once wrote. The majority doesn't want this. Yet when the virtual room works at the push of a button and without errors, it becomes something ordinary, where no one will think about technology anymore.
Partner, invOFFICE for architecture, urbanism and design, Amsterdam; Professor for Hybrid Space, Academy of Media Arts, Köln
Head of Safety & Security Department, AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH, Vienna Chair
Telekom Austria AG, Wien Coordination

Ing. Mag. Johann CAS

Senior researcher at the Institute of Technology Assessment, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna

 Higher Technical Teaching College, Klagenfurt, Department of Telecommunications
1987 degree in economics at the University of Graz; technical consultant in industrial automation
since 1988 employed by the ITA as specialist in information society technologies; main focus at present: privacy in the information society, privacy enhancing technologies.


Spokesperson, International Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna

 Broadcast journalist
 Public Affairs Specialist, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
 Spokesperson/ Head of Press and Public Information, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe
 Spokesperson/ Head of Media and Outreach, IAEA

Georges T. ROOS

Founder, ROOS Office for Cultural Innovation Trends & Futures; Founder & Director, European Futurists Conference Lucerne

1984-1989 Studium an der philosophischen Fakultät Universität Zürich, Abschluss lic. phil. I. (Master of Arts)
1989-1996 Journalistische Laufbahn, zuletzt Mitglied der Chefredaktion Luzerner Neuste Nachrichten;
1996-1999 Mitglied der Geschäftsleitung Gottlieb Duttweiler Institut, Rüschlikon;
2000 Gründung des privaten Zukunftsforschungsinstituts ROOS Office for Cultural Innovation;
2004 Gründung European Futurists Conference Lucerne, Director

Dipl.-Ing. Helmut LEOPOLD

Head of Safety & Security Department, AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH, Vienna

1989 Abschluss des Studiums der Informatik als Dipl.-Ing. an der Technischen Universität Wien
1989-1994 Alcatel Austria ELIN Forschungszentrum; Forschungsingenieur auf dem Gebiet der Breitband- und Multimediakommunikation
1994-1998 Alcatel Austria AG; Leiter der Gruppe Breitbandtechnologie und Strategie
1999-2008 In verschiedenen Managementpositionen bei Telekom Austria; In dieser Zeit verantwortete er die Realisierung eines umfassenden Product Life Cycle Prozesses, in dem heute das Gesamtportfolio der Festnetzprodukte der Telekom Austria gesteuert wird.
seit 2009 Head of Safety & Security Department, AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH, Wien

Technology Forum

show timetable


10:00 - 12:00Technology Brunch sponsored by Tiroler ZukunftsstiftungSocial
11:00 - 22:00Presentation CD-Laboratory "Biomechanics in skiing"Culture
13:00 - 13:30Welcome by the OrganisersPlenary
13:30 - 14:00Welcome StatementsPlenary
14:00 - 15:00OriginsPlenary
15:30 - 17:30Competition for TalentPlenary
19:00 - 20:15Research at the Cutting EdgePlenary
20:15 - 21:30Science and Research Models and Best PracticePlenary
21:30 - 23:30Evening Reception sponsored by Alcatel AustriaSocial


09:00 - 18:00Junior AlpbachBreakout
09:00 - 15:00Working Group 01: Science and Technology in Sport: Challenge for Industry and Benefit for PeopleBreakout
09:00 - 15:00Working Group 02: Technology Transfer: the Motor for Developing LocationsBreakout
09:00 - 15:00Working Group 03: Convergence and Complexity in TechnologyBreakout
09:00 - 15:00Working Group 04: Convergence and Excellence in ScienceBreakout
09:00 - 15:00Working Group 05: Innovative Telematics Systems in Intermodal TransportBreakout
09:00 - 15:00Working Group 06: Changes in Technology and Natural Sciences - Is Our Tertiary Education System Still Up to Date?Breakout
09:00 - 15:00Working Group 07: High-performance Materials from Nature as an Opportunity for Economic GrowthBreakout
09:00 - 15:00Working Group 08: The Reassuring HabitatBreakout
09:00 - 15:00Working Group 09: Energy Security - the Case of Hydro CarbonsBreakout
16:00 - 17:15Convergence and Complexity in Science and TechnologyPlenary
17:15 - 18:00Faith and SciencePlenary
19:00 - 20:00Atom and Eve - an Alpbach MinioperaCulture
20:00 - 23:30Reception sponsored by the Province of Lower AustriaSocial


09:00 - 10:00Energy and SecurityPlenary
10:00 - 10:30Alpbach 2006 - Resumée Junior AlpbachPlenary
11:00 - 12:30Science and DemocracyPlenary
12:30 - 13:30The Universe is a Strange PlacePlenary
13:30 - 14:30Farewell Reception sponsored by Microsoft AustriaSocial