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Chair « Technology for Change : environment, society and industry »

Chair « Technology for Change : environment, society and industry »

Climate change and the alteration of ecosystems have become an undisputed reality of the 21st century. These two phenomena unfortunately continue to reinforce each other: impoverishment drives the use of solutions and technologies that are more harmful to the environment, while global warming generates more poverty, accentuating the pressing nature of a urgent regulatory action.

The human species, designated today as an “invasive species”1, finds itself more than ever at the heart of the vagaries of a changing world, chosen or suffered. The social and digital divide that is taking place on a global scale is already accentuating inequalities, structural sources of instability throughout the world. These cumulative and growing inequalities affect the very structure of the social fabric, inhibiting its complete cohesion both locally and globally, regionally and internationally.

The current health crisis, for its part, is likely to reinforce these upheavals and to be prolonged by a lasting economic and social depression shaking companies, now immersed in an unknown environment, in a context where the national and European relocation of sectors identified as critical continues to push them towards fierce competitiveness.


(1) See inaugural lesson "Homo sapiens, une espèce invasive", Collège de France, January 2022.

Technological progress has been increasingly singled out in recent years. Advanced technologies are very often reserved for the most favored strata of our societies while having harmful effects on others: certain products are manufactured in developing countries, consumed in developed countries and then "thrown away" again in developing countries that bear high environmental and social costs on behalf of distant consumers.

The depletion of natural and energy resources pushes us to think about new models and new uses, but does not slow down planned obsolescence and the overconsumption of products and content. Issues related to data protection, artificial intelligence and the intrusive nature of certain technologies raise concerns about future progress.

Faced with these realities, should we conclude, as some do not hesitate to do, that technology is intrinsically bad?

Rejecting all scientific and technological progress, when it has historically proven to be an economic, social and cultural force capable, if used wisely, of uniting us around just causes, makes no sense. However, a major obstacle is the way in which we measure progress: today, it is the financial impact that serves as an indicator of interest for technological advances, whereas the relevance of these would also be more usefully measured in terms of their social or environmental impact.

Moreover, we do not perceive technological advances in the same way: while some call for technological sobriety in wealthy Western societies, more than 6 billion humans are waiting impatiently for technical progress. However, innovations from developed countries do not adapt well to developing countries, and within the same country the different territories and social groups will perceive the added value of a given technology differently: to have meaning, innovation technology must therefore be inclusive, social and systemic, that is to say benefit everyone and in particular the most disadvantaged people in our societies, those who are traditionally excluded from these innovation processes.

We are therefore faced with a double historical responsibility: the challenge of responsible and inclusive technology must be taken up not only because our survival - as members of human societies, and as inhabitants of our planet - depends on it, but also because the alternative - stopping progress - would be extremely harmful. It is therefore up to us to show that innovation and technological progress can be virtuous, inclusive and responsible, for humanity and for our planet.

It now appears necessary to think about and experiment with the environmental, social and industrial transition towards more open, more inclusive and more sustainable systems to support companies and society at large in this new paradigm. Faced with these challenges, it is essential to cross disciplines, cultures and approaches and to make the best use of open innovation to imagine new ways of doing things. This approach will be able to restore the keys to understanding and action to current and future decision-makers and to rethink the necessary transformation of technology and organizations in the face of these environmental, social and industrial challenges.

It is in this spirit that the creation of the chair “Technology for change: environment, society and industry” at the Institut Polytechnique de Paris (IP Paris) was envisaged. If this approach is part of the tradition of technical excellence carried by the institute and these schools, it is above all a program focused on the future, with the aim of meeting today and tomorrow's major challenges.

The crossing of perspectives on issues related to the inclusiveness and sustainability of technological innovation will lead to the development of interdisciplinary research and teaching programs combining "hard" sciences (new energies, artificial intelligence, innovative materials, computer, biomedical engineering, micro- and nanoelectronics, innovative materials, applied mathematics, etc.) and human sciences (management sciences, economics, sociology, ethnology, psychology, etc.).

The universal and meaningful nature of the themes explored makes the awareness-raising and dissemination actions for the work carried out particularly relevant. Several types of audiences could be targeted:

  1. The general public, through the organization of public events and the creation of content intended for them
  2. Policy makers, through the creation of a think tank on technology issues examined through the prism of inclusiveness and sustainability.

Discover a summary of the work of the Technology for Change Research Chair in our annual activity reports, the "Technology for Change Highlights":

Director of the Research Chair

  • Thierry Rayna, Professor at Ecole Polytechnique (IP Paris)

Researchers

  • Pilar Acosta, Associate Professor at Ecole Polytechnique (IP Paris)
  • Simcha Jong, Lecturer at Ecole Polytechnique (IP Paris), Professor & Director of the PhD programme in Health Business Administration at University College London Global Business School for Health (UK)
  • Estelle Peyrard, Lecturer at Ecole Polytechnique (IP Paris) & Head of the APF France Handicap TechLab
  • Mette Praest Knudsen, Lecturer at Ecole Polytechnique (IP Paris) & Professor at the University of Southern Denmark (Denmark)
  • Joel Ruet, CNRS researcher at i3, Ecole Polytechnique (IP Paris)

Associate Researchers

  • Ignasi Capdevila, Researcher and Associate Professor at Paris School of Business
  • Valentine Georget, Lecturer at the Université Côte d'Azur
  • Benoit Tezenas du Montcel, Assistant Professor at the Institut Mines-Télécom Business School
  • Max von Zedtwitz, Visiting Professor at Ecole Polytechnique (IP Paris) and Kaunas University of Technology (Lithuania) & Professor at Copenhagen Business School (Denmark)

Postdoctoral Researchers

  • Mélissa Alauze, Postdoctoral Researcher at Ecole Polytechnique (IP Paris)
  • Valeria Dammicco, Postdoctoral Researcher at Ecole Polytechnique (IP Paris)
  • Ecem Bilge Delicik, Postdoctoral Researcher at Ecole Polytechnique (IP Paris)

Doctorant.e.s

  • Natasha Buksh, PhD candidate at Ecole Polytechnique (IP Paris)
  • Darina Bulatova, PhD candidate at Ecole Polytechnique (IP Paris)
  • Corentin Juin, PhD candidate at Ecole Polytechnique (IP Paris)
  • Mahmoud Radwan, PhD candidate at Ecole Polytechnique (IP Paris)
  • Costantino Romeo, PhD candidate at Ecole Polytechnique (IP Paris), Paris School of Business & CORAL-ITN European Commission

Research Assistant

  • Matthieu Kwasniuk-Zelazny, Research Assistant at Ecole Polytechnique (IP Paris)

Personnels administratifs

  • Aurore Brunet, Research Chair Communications and Dissemination Officer
  • Frédéric Cordenner, Research Chair Administrator
  • Christelle Nema, Research Chair Coordinator

With the support of Accenture and Fondation École polytechnique:

Historical Context

Climate change and the alteration of ecosystems have become an undisputed reality of the 21st century. These two phenomena unfortunately continue to reinforce each other: impoverishment drives the use of solutions and technologies that are more harmful to the environment, while global warming generates more poverty, accentuating the pressing nature of a urgent regulatory action.

The human species, designated today as an “invasive species”1, finds itself more than ever at the heart of the vagaries of a changing world, chosen or suffered. The social and digital divide that is taking place on a global scale is already accentuating inequalities, structural sources of instability throughout the world. These cumulative and growing inequalities affect the very structure of the social fabric, inhibiting its complete cohesion both locally and globally, regionally and internationally.

The current health crisis, for its part, is likely to reinforce these upheavals and to be prolonged by a lasting economic and social depression shaking companies, now immersed in an unknown environment, in a context where the national and European relocation of sectors identified as critical continues to push them towards fierce competitiveness.


(1) See inaugural lesson "Homo sapiens, une espèce invasive", Collège de France, January 2022.

Technological progress has been increasingly singled out in recent years. Advanced technologies are very often reserved for the most favored strata of our societies while having harmful effects on others: certain products are manufactured in developing countries, consumed in developed countries and then "thrown away" again in developing countries that bear high environmental and social costs on behalf of distant consumers.

The depletion of natural and energy resources pushes us to think about new models and new uses, but does not slow down planned obsolescence and the overconsumption of products and content. Issues related to data protection, artificial intelligence and the intrusive nature of certain technologies raise concerns about future progress.

Faced with these realities, should we conclude, as some do not hesitate to do, that technology is intrinsically bad?

Rejecting all scientific and technological progress, when it has historically proven to be an economic, social and cultural force capable, if used wisely, of uniting us around just causes, makes no sense. However, a major obstacle is the way in which we measure progress: today, it is the financial impact that serves as an indicator of interest for technological advances, whereas the relevance of these would also be more usefully measured in terms of their social or environmental impact.

Moreover, we do not perceive technological advances in the same way: while some call for technological sobriety in wealthy Western societies, more than 6 billion humans are waiting impatiently for technical progress. However, innovations from developed countries do not adapt well to developing countries, and within the same country the different territories and social groups will perceive the added value of a given technology differently: to have meaning, innovation technology must therefore be inclusive, social and systemic, that is to say benefit everyone and in particular the most disadvantaged people in our societies, those who are traditionally excluded from these innovation processes.

We are therefore faced with a double historical responsibility: the challenge of responsible and inclusive technology must be taken up not only because our survival - as members of human societies, and as inhabitants of our planet - depends on it, but also because the alternative - stopping progress - would be extremely harmful. It is therefore up to us to show that innovation and technological progress can be virtuous, inclusive and responsible, for humanity and for our planet.

It now appears necessary to think about and experiment with the environmental, social and industrial transition towards more open, more inclusive and more sustainable systems to support companies and society at large in this new paradigm. Faced with these challenges, it is essential to cross disciplines, cultures and approaches and to make the best use of open innovation to imagine new ways of doing things. This approach will be able to restore the keys to understanding and action to current and future decision-makers and to rethink the necessary transformation of technology and organizations in the face of these environmental, social and industrial challenges.

It is in this spirit that the creation of the chair “Technology for change: environment, society and industry” at the Institut Polytechnique de Paris (IP Paris) was envisaged. If this approach is part of the tradition of technical excellence carried by the institute and these schools, it is above all a program focused on the future, with the aim of meeting today and tomorrow's major challenges.

The crossing of perspectives on issues related to the inclusiveness and sustainability of technological innovation will lead to the development of interdisciplinary research and teaching programs combining "hard" sciences (new energies, artificial intelligence, innovative materials, computer, biomedical engineering, micro- and nanoelectronics, innovative materials, applied mathematics, etc.) and human sciences (management sciences, economics, sociology, ethnology, psychology, etc.).

The universal and meaningful nature of the themes explored makes the awareness-raising and dissemination actions for the work carried out particularly relevant. Several types of audiences could be targeted:

  1. The general public, through the organization of public events and the creation of content intended for them
  2. Policy makers, through the creation of a think tank on technology issues examined through the prism of inclusiveness and sustainability.

Discover a summary of the work of the Technology for Change Research Chair in our annual activity reports, the "Technology for Change Highlights":

Director of the Research Chair

  • Thierry Rayna, Professor at Ecole Polytechnique (IP Paris)

Researchers

  • Pilar Acosta, Associate Professor at Ecole Polytechnique (IP Paris)
  • Simcha Jong, Lecturer at Ecole Polytechnique (IP Paris), Professor & Director of the PhD programme in Health Business Administration at University College London Global Business School for Health (UK)
  • Estelle Peyrard, Lecturer at Ecole Polytechnique (IP Paris) & Head of the APF France Handicap TechLab
  • Mette Praest Knudsen, Lecturer at Ecole Polytechnique (IP Paris) & Professor at the University of Southern Denmark (Denmark)
  • Joel Ruet, CNRS researcher at i3, Ecole Polytechnique (IP Paris)

Associate Researchers

  • Ignasi Capdevila, Researcher and Associate Professor at Paris School of Business
  • Valentine Georget, Lecturer at the Université Côte d'Azur
  • Benoit Tezenas du Montcel, Assistant Professor at the Institut Mines-Télécom Business School
  • Max von Zedtwitz, Visiting Professor at Ecole Polytechnique (IP Paris) and Kaunas University of Technology (Lithuania) & Professor at Copenhagen Business School (Denmark)

Postdoctoral Researchers

  • Mélissa Alauze, Postdoctoral Researcher at Ecole Polytechnique (IP Paris)
  • Valeria Dammicco, Postdoctoral Researcher at Ecole Polytechnique (IP Paris)
  • Ecem Bilge Delicik, Postdoctoral Researcher at Ecole Polytechnique (IP Paris)

Doctorant.e.s

  • Natasha Buksh, PhD candidate at Ecole Polytechnique (IP Paris)
  • Darina Bulatova, PhD candidate at Ecole Polytechnique (IP Paris)
  • Corentin Juin, PhD candidate at Ecole Polytechnique (IP Paris)
  • Mahmoud Radwan, PhD candidate at Ecole Polytechnique (IP Paris)
  • Costantino Romeo, PhD candidate at Ecole Polytechnique (IP Paris), Paris School of Business & CORAL-ITN European Commission

Research Assistant

  • Matthieu Kwasniuk-Zelazny, Research Assistant at Ecole Polytechnique (IP Paris)

Personnels administratifs

  • Aurore Brunet, Research Chair Communications and Dissemination Officer
  • Frédéric Cordenner, Research Chair Administrator
  • Christelle Nema, Research Chair Coordinator

With the support of Accenture and Fondation École polytechnique: