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Mapping Wild Cards

Inspired by: FP7 » Automatic learning through neuro-data transfer

version: 12 / updated: 2011-02-23
id: #1671 / version id: #304
mode: VIEW

Originally submitted by: Joe Ravetz
List of all contributors by versions (mouse over)
Last changed by: Rafael Popper
WI-WE status:

Source of inspiration

European Commission Framework Programme for RTD (FP7)

Theme/activity of inspiration

Theme 8 - Socio-economic Sciences and the Humanities

Sub-theme/area of inspiration

Changing role of knowledge throughout the economy

Optional reference/s to FP7 project/s

Use the following format: Project Acronym (Project Reference No.). Use commas if more than one project is associated to this Wild Card, for example: ALFA-BIRD (213266), SAFAR (213374), LAPCAT-II (211485)
EPOCH - Ethics in Public Policy Making: The Case of Human Enhancement (266660)


(max. 9 words)

Automatic learning through neuro-data transfer


(approx. 150 words)
Please describe the Wild Card (approx. 150 words)
Automatic neuro-education is technologically possible but at a price - and therefore available only to wealthy people (or those singled out by powerful institutions for such enhancement). Techniques are developed for neurological implants with cognitive targeting for subliminal learning. This can then access special online learning and edutainment systems so that participants can learn during work, leisure, or travel. Wealthier schools and colleges build virtual environment 'learneries' where 'in-house' pupils and students can be kept in suspended animation, wired up to intensive edu-tainment systems. There are benefits for educational attainment levels, but at the cost of social mobility and segregation in EU society. There are also growing concerns about the use of such facilities for “brainwashing” and correcting unwanted behaviours, and about possible negative impacts on creativity and divergent thinking.


education, neurological, learning, automatic, exclusion


(max. 250 characters)

Technological enhancements of cognitive learning processes become available - but only for those able to afford them.


Closest timeframe for at least 50% likelihood
Please use one of the following options:

Features of life if the wild card manifests

Feature 1: business models and industrial environment
Education – or novel elements of education and training - becomes further deregulated and becomes a major part of the private sector economy.
Feature 2: education and research environment
Education could be transformed into a technological process and economic commodity. Dangers of inhibiting experimentation and creativity.
Feature 3: consumers, markets and lifestyles
Consumers are able to match their learning targets with leisure activities and media choices. More basic forms of automatic learning become available in a two-tier system.
Feature 4: technology and infrastructure
A whole new infrastructure is set up to feed the education system with social media based content.
Feature 5: politics and global affairs
Political parties and groups create their ideologically driven learning centres where pupils and students can only access to knowledge associated to a particular "line of thought". Controversy around ideological and ethical content of material that is being transferred.
Feature 6: health and quality of life
Much of the population spends large parts of the day with neural implants. Concerns about divorce from reality and incapacity to cope well with those parts of life not covered by the new educational frameworks.
Feature 7: security and defence
Dramatic surge in the number of security concerns (e.g. hacking and privacy issues) as ICT knowledge becomes more widely available, and scope for “messing with people’s minds” becomes a reality. Efforts to use the systems for training perfect soldiers and disciplining criminals.

Type of event

Human planned (e.g. terrorist attack or funded scientific breakthrough)

Type of emergence

please select (if any) describe related trend or situation
An extreme extension of a trend/development/situation
(e.g. Increased global warming leads to a total ban on fossil fuels)
Modification of the human body aimed at improving performance by scientific-technological means.

Type of systems affected

Human-built Systems - E.g. organisations, processes, technologies, etc.




please specify:
please select
Level 3: important for the European Union
Level 4: important for the whole world

Early indicators

(including weak signals)

Growing research and technology development on human enhancement.

Latent phase

Obstacles for early indentification

information/communicational filters (media/editorial interests, language, reasoning)
economic filters (business/market interests)
scientific filters (knowledge/technology access)
social filters (class, status, education level)

Manifestation phase

Type of manifestation

In a probably pervasive way (contagious or transmittable)

Aftermath phase

Important implications
Emergence of a new system (e.g. new technologies, new paradigms)
Transformation of a system (e.g. new applications, change in stakeholders relations/influence)


Transformation of the education systems and emergence of neuro-enhanced humans, who are segregated by class.

Key drivers or triggers

Provide up to 2 possible drivers or triggers of HIGH importance. Click on HELP to see examples:
please describe
Driver / Trigger 1
please describe
Driver / Trigger 2
Social Growth of virtual learning environments.
Technological/Scientific Neural implants & social-media virtual learning environments with productivity improvement.

Potential impacts (risks & opportunities)

Timeframe options
Risks Opportunities
short term
(1 to 5 years after the Wild Card manifests)
Immediate improvement in educational attainment scores.
medium term
(5 to 10 years after the Wild Card manifests)
Social, cultural, health, political side-effects.

Potential stakeholders' actions

it occurs
it occurs
Policy actors (at the international, European and national levels) Convention on neural learning. Policies for equality in access to education.
Academic/Research sector Research on ethical and health implications of neuro-enhancement.
Non-for-profit organisations (e.g. NGOs, political parties, social movements, voluntary associations) New forms of education organisation.

Relevance for Grand Challenges

where? please justify:
particularly relevant Europe world
Ageing and other demographic tensions
Ethics and abuse of S&T
Social exclusion & poverty
Social cohesion and diversity
Work-Life balance and mental health
Innovation dynamics

Relevance for thematic research areas

please justify:
particularly relevant
ICT - Information & communication technologies
Social Sciences and Humanities

Pan-European strategies potentially helping to deal with the wild card

please justify:
particularly relevant
Facilitating and promoting knowledge sharing and transfer

 Features of a research-friendly ecology contributing to deal with the wild card

For further information about 'research-friendly strategies' click here

please justify:
particularly relevant
Strengthening the actors in the research-friendly ecology
(i.e. Research funding organisations, universities, businesses, Research and Technology Organisations, Researchers and Citizens)
Creating a closer link between researchers & policy-makers
(e.g. supporting both thematic and cross-cutting policies, highlighting the strategic purpose of the European Research Area, etc.

Relevance for future R&D and STI policies

Note: RTD = research and technology development; STI = science, technology and innovation
ICT research will need to focus more on the wider socio-cultural implications of technological improvements, and the ethics of new IT facilities. Deeper research into learning and creativity required.