Asking the right questions
At the Rathenau Instituut we investigate what impact science and technology have on society and how that impact can be positive. We carry out research and thus support debate in political circles and in society. A whole range of people and organisations helped us answer those kinds of questions in 2018: researchers in the humanities and the natural and behavioural sciences, as well as ethicists, NGOs, hands-on experts, and many others. They also helped us to keep asking the right questions so we can contribute to the continued positive development of the Netherlands.
In a democratic society, what counts as positive is naturally always open to discussion. We promote dialogue by means of our reports, publications, and appearances in support of Members of Parliament and in the media.
To the extent Dutch society was in fact ‘California dreaming’, in 2018 we finally awakened from that dream. Our research shows time and again that no technology works by itself, not even data technology. All that technology and discussion of it are encouraging us to talk about what we actually consider to be important, in the workplace and in the context of local democracy. My hope is that we can make the choices about technology that we really want to make.
This Annual Report provides an impression of what we were doing in 2018. It makes me optimistic. We are much more aware of the undesirable societal effects of the digital transition, and are convinced that maintaining trust in digitalisation is of great importance for the knowledge society.