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Health Society

The Human Brain Project: The Foresight Lab

The Human Brain Project (HBP) is building a research infrastructure to help advance neuroscience, medicine and computing. It is one of four FET (Future and Emerging Tehcnology) Flagships, the largest scientific projects ever funded by the European Union under FP7.

The 10-year Project began in 2013 and directly employs some 500 scientists at more than 100 universities, teaching hospitals and research centres across Europe. See full list of partners. 

The Foresight Lab at King's College London is a part of the HBP's Subproject12 and focuses on identifying and evaluating the future impact of new knowledge and technologies generated by the HBP using a range of methods including action research, interviews, participant observation, literature reviews, questionnaire surveys and expert workshops.

Funding

The timeline of the HBP are split into multiple phases, each of which are covered by a separate grant agreement. King's College London is now engaged in phase two Specific Grant Agreement (SGA2) spanning the period of 01 April 2018 to 31 March 2020.

The ramp-up phase of the HBP ran from October 2013 to March 2016 and it was funded under the European Commission (EC) FP7. The remainder of the project is funded under the EC Horizon 2020. The first phase fell under the Specific Grant Agreement (SGA1) that ran from 01 April 2016 to 31 March 2018.

Below is the breakdown of the funding:

  • Ramp-Up Phase: €771,336 (October 2013 - March 2016)
  • Special Grant Agreement 1: €818,938 (April 2016 - March 2018)
  • Special Grant Agreement 2: €861,806 (April 2018 - March 2020)

Aims

The goal of the project is to build a completely new ICT infrastructure for neuroscience, and for brain related research in medicine and computing catalysing a global collaborative effort to understand the human brain and its diseases and ultimately to emulate its computational capabilities. A 10-year European initiative to understand the human brain enabling advances in neuroscience, medicine and future computing.

Methods

  • This project identifies and evaluate the potential impact of the new knowledge and technologies produced by the HBP, in terms of benefits to European citizens, European industry, the European economy and European society.  
  • Our Foresight Lab conducts systematic foresight exercises to identify and evaluate these impacts. We adapt and develop established foresight methods already in use in different areas of medicine and ICT, including modelling, horizon scanning and scenario planning.

Consulting systematically with researchers, potential users of new technologies, civil society groups, regulators and other stakeholders, the lab develops a set of social and economic scenarios, which serve as frameworks for evaluating the possible consequences of the HBP on different areas of society. The scenarios, with five, ten, and twenty year time horizons, consider possible impacts in industry, employment, the health services, the legal system, education, the military and police, the media, leisure and consumer culture, psychiatry and self-help. Developments in these areas are monitored over the course of the HBP, and actual impacts are fed back into Foresight models to increase accuracy and enable real-time technology assessment. The results are disseminated to researchers throughout the HBP, and debated by the HBP board, WP leaders and researchers. These discussions help to fine-tune HBP research, increasing awareness of potential risks, helping to manage these risks and maximising clinical, industrial and social benefits.

Project status: Ongoing

Principal investigators

Nikolas Rose

Nikolas Rose

Professor of Sociology

Funding

  • Funding body: European Commission
  • Amount: €771,336
  • Period: October 2013 - March 2016
  • Funding body: European Commission
  • Amount: €818,938
  • Period: April 2016 - March 2018
  • Funding body: European Commission
  • Amount: €861,806
  • Period: April 2018 - March 2020

Keywords

  • Neuroscience
  • ICT
  • ethics
  • society