ASSIST

 

 

 

Achieving Sustainability by using Substitutive

Information Society Technologies

 

I.S.T., KAII, Action Line 2.1.1.

 

 

 

 

 

 

DELIVERABLE D2:

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

 

Click here for ASSIST Summary

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

 

 

 


The Main Goal of ASSIST

 

One of the key challenges that the EU faced was changing people’s behaviour with regard to living and consuming. The EU lifestyle is not sustainable in the long term.[1]

 

The ASSIST study is developing and expanding the potential for achieving sustainability by encouraging the development of Information Society Technology based alternatives to material consumption, and so reducing consumption of all kinds.

Most (perhaps 75% of all) material consumption is unrelated to basic needs (nutrition, shelter, etc) but is rather intended to satisfy some non-material need (place in society, individuality, etc).  Consumption substitution by IST (virtualisation or immaterialisation) thus offers a powerful route to global sustainability by reduction of unnecessary material use.

The main goal of ASSIST is to define very clearly those aspects of consumption that are associated with perceptions of quality of life rather than with basic survival to assist in defining how future IST products and services could offer immaterial alternatives to the material satisfiers of today.

Key Issues to be Studied by ASSIST

 

The background issues are the need to reduce material consumption globally;  the potential in that respect offered by the immaterialisation of consumption; our relatively immature understanding of the underlying (socio-economic) reasons for consumption, and the specific ability of ISTs to respond to the challenge of the immaterialisation of consumption.

 

Specific issues to be addressed in ASSIST include :

·           Identifying a taxonomy of consumption that would facilitate identification of the areas of material consumption that are actively responding to needs whose satisfiers could be immaterial substitutes.

·           Analysing the existing known examples of immaterialisation in ISTs (e.g. by use of the Cycle of Cognition) and elsewhere (e.g. looking at the theory of Brands) to achieve a better understanding of their socio-economic implications

·           Testing the general applicability of the taxonomy and analysis against specific human needs (e.g. by assessment against the perceptions of IsdAC, the Information Society disAbilities Challenge); and against the new advanced IST products and services (e.g. Intellirooms).

·           Further testing the analysis against early examples of post-material, quality of life related lifestyles (e.g. in e-work) to support debate on generating aspirational change in society and make linkages to e.g. the growth of the third sector and of no-monetised (but monetarised) work.

·           The ultimate challenge is to map out the potential configuration of post-modern lifestyles in which personal extension and growth (ontological development) are achieved by IST substitutes, rather than by material consumption.

Technical Approach

ASSIST will survey existing multi- and cross-disciplinary work in relating consumption of goods and services to non-material human needs, (using workshops and action groups to expand the field of contributors), making recommendations for future work (particularly in the 5th and 6th framework programmes) and  proposing potential new parameters for product and service design.

 

ASSIST is structured into three particular task areas:

1.      Defining accurately the state-of-the-art

2.      Making recommendations on the future RTD agenda and on potential parameters for product and service design.

3.      Supporting wider policy debate on the contribution of  IST to sustainability.

 

Each of these three task areas relates to two specific issues, firstly, the nature and taxonomy of non-material needs and the means of their satisfaction, and secondly, the extent to which IST may be able to provide non-material satisfiers for an increasing fraction of non-material needs, e.g. using virtual community technology to reinforce and complement existing communities, and identifying which human needs (e.g. sensory or ontological) are not adequately satisfied by such technologies.

Within each task area there is a particular methodology :

1.         State-of-art survey by expert interviews; by targeted questionnaire; and by document search, including a multi-disciplinary workshop to identify the extent and progress of related work.

2.         reasoned analysis and classification of the state-of-art including mapping across the needs and satisfiers issues IST issues that could potentially lead to IST enabled consumption substitution. This task area will also include a multi-disciplinary workshop identifying potentials for new RTD actions and potential new parameters for product and service design.

3.         the outcomes will be presented at a conference making concrete recommendations for development of the FP5/FP6 and specifically IST work programmes.

ASSIST  will also support public debate as a further contribution to the definition of future research programmes  in promoting sustainability through IST.

 

Expected Impact

 

ASSIST will facilitate the adoption  of immaterialisation by clarifying the socio-economic factors that make immaterialisation possible and to the relationship between immaterialisation and Information Society Technologies. It will identify potentially fruitful areas of future work to aid in design of the new IST products and services required for the immaterialisation of consumption. By this means ASSIST will provide a substantial impetus to the transformation to a Sustainable Information Society in Europe.

 

The immediate impact of ASSIST will be in clarifying the nature of those human needs that are best satisfied by new IST services. The long term impact will be a new perspective on the development of lifestyles that could contribute towards the next generation's grasping immaterialisation as an improvement on material goods as well as a substitute for them.

The Main Goal of ASSIST

 

One of the key challenges that the EU faced was changing people’s behaviour with regard to living and consuming. The EU lifestyle is not sustainable in the long term.[2]

 

The ASSIST study is developing and expanding the potential for achieving sustainability by encouraging the development of Information Society Technology based alternatives to material consumption, and so reducing consumption of all kinds.

 

Most (perhaps 75% of all) material consumption is unrelated to basic needs (nutrition, shelter, etc) but is rather intended to satisfy some non-material need (place in society, individuality, etc).  Consumption substitution by IST (virtualisation or immaterialisation) thus offers a powerful route to global sustainability by reduction of unnecessary material use.  However, in order to achieve this, it will be necessary to define very clearly those aspects of consumption that are associated with perceptions of quality of life rather than with basic survival, and to propose ways in which future IST products and services can offer immaterial alternatives to the material satisfiers of today.  These will be the goals of the ASSIST project.

Key Issues to be Studied by ASSIST

 

The background issues are the need to reduce material consumption globally;  the potential in that respect offered by the immaterialisation of consumption; our relatively immature understanding of the underlying (socio-economic) reasons for consumption, and the specific ability of ISTs to respond to the challenge of the immaterialisation of consumption.

 

Specific issues to be addressed in ASSIST include :

·Identifying a taxonomy of consumption that would facilitate identification of the areas of material consumption that are actively responding to needs whose satisfiers could be immaterial substitutes.

·Analysing the existing known examples of immaterialisation in ISTs (e.g. by use of the Cycle of Cognition) and elsewhere (e.g. looking at the theory of Brands) to achieve a better understanding of their socio-economic implications

·Testing the general applicability of the taxonomy and analysis against specific human needs (e.g. by assessment against the perceptions of IsdAC, the Information Society disAbilities Challenge); and against the new advanced IST products and services (e.g. Intellirooms).

·Further testing the analysis against early examples of post-material, quality of life related lifestyles (e.g. in e-work) to support debate on generating aspirational change in society and make linkages to e.g. the growth of the third sector and of no-monetised (but monetarised) work.

·The ultimate challenge is to map out the potential configuration of post-modern lifestyles in which personal extension and growth (ontological development) are achieved by IST substitutes, rather than by material consumption.

Technical Approach

ASSIST will survey existing multi- and cross-disciplinary work in defining consumption related human needs, (using workshops and action groups to expand the field of contributors), making recommendations for future work (particularly in the 5th and 6th framework programmes) and  proposing potential new parameters for product and service design.

 

ASSIST is structured into three particular task areas:

1.Defining accurately the state-of-the-art

1.Making recommendations on the future RTD agenda and on potential parameters for product and service design.

1.Supporting wider policy debate on the contribution of  IST to sustainability.

 

Each of these three task areas relates to two specific issues, firstly, the nature and taxonomy of non-material needs and the means of their satisfaction, and secondly, the extent to which IST may be able to provide non-material satisfiers for non-material needs, e.g. using virtual community technology to reinforce existing communities, and identifying which human needs (e.g. sensory or ontological) are not adequately satisfied by such technologies.

 

Within each task area there is a particular methodology :

1.  State-of-art survey by expert interviews; by targeted questionnaire; and by document search, including a multi-disciplinary workshop to identify the extent and progress of related work.

2.  reasoned analysis and classification of the state-of-art including mapping across the needs and satisfiers issues IST issues that could potentially lead to IST enabled consumption substitution. This task area will also include a multi-disciplinary workshop identifying potentials for new RTD actions and potential new parameters for product and service design.

3.  the outcomes will be presented at a conference making concrete recommendations for development of the FP5/FP6 and specifically IST work programmes.

 

ASSIST  will also support public debate as a further contribution to the definition of future research programmes  in promoting sustainability through IST.

 

Expected Impact

 

ASSIST will facilitate the acceleration of immaterialisation by providing a sound factual basis for understanding the socio-economic factors that make immaterialisation possible and by expounding their relationship to Information Society Technologies. It will identify potentially fruitful areas of future work to aid in design of the new IST products and services required for the immaterialisation of consumption. By this means ASSIST will provide a substantial impetus to the transformation to a Sustainable Information Society in Europe.

 

 

 

 

 

Participants in the ASSIST Study are as follows:-

 

Addico Cornix Ltd      

Penzance, Cornwall TR20 8QW

UK

BARCO N.V. 

Kortryk B-8500

Belgium

Babbage Institute for Knowledge & IT

Gent B-9000

Belgium

Digital World Research Centre

University of Surrey GU2 7XH

UK

ECO-Plan International

Paris F-75006

France

Information Society disAbilities Challenge

Zonhoven B-3520

Belgium

Vers VERS Associates

London NW3 7AU

UK

                       

Cost of the Study

 

The total cost of the study is 540,000 EURO.  This is 100% funded by the E.C.

 

Technical Co-ordinator Contact Details

 

Stephen Simmons

Addico Cornix Ltd

Tregannick, Sancreed

Penzance, Cornwall,

TR20 8QW

 

Phone:  +44 1736 332736

Fax: +44 1736 334702

Email: [email protected]



[1] Commissioner Wallstrom addressing business and regional representatives at an EPC meeting in Brussels on 12 September 2000