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The impact and potential of the collaborative internet and additive manufacturing on the future economy

The emergence and convergence of four key technologically enabled phenomena (Internet Collaboration, Big |Fast| Open Data, Additive Manufacturing, and Crypto-currency) prompted the Science and Technology Options Assessment panel of the European Parliament to let a contract to conduct research into the potential of these technologies and to identify any associated policy implications. The research study comprised of four phases: desk research, a workshop, a mini-foresight exercise and interviews with industrialists and academics. The data collected were analysed and a number of positive and negative policy options were identified. The issues that arose in the study are summarised and include: personal data as commodity, disintermediation, education, prosumerism and entrepreneurial innovation, pace of policy development, (and laws and regulations), borderlessness and internationalism, virtualisation of industrial infrastructure and of currency. Given the radical changes that are expected to sweep the EU and global economies in the next few years, we found there was particular interest in developing and deploying new forms of intellectual property management protocols. It was recognised that this short study was only the start of a longer process. Future investigation needs to delve deeper into the technical and social aspects of the relevant technologies and of the capability envelope they occupy, as no one can anticipate the next technology disrupter and where it will act.