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How will AI and Big Data shape our future?

Artificial intelligence is already having a major impact on our lives, society and economy for the good and the bad.

Currently, AI raises many issues relating to privacy, data protection, discrimination, autonomy, power asymmetries, fairness, among others, but what will AI be doing in six years from now, in 2025?

What measures should policymakers be adopting to make sure we reach a desired future and avoid an undesired one?

Trilateral Research’s work aims to clarify and exemplify the ethical and human rights issues of Smart Information Systems (i.e. the combination of AI and big data analytics). This involves developing case studies of current technologies and applications, future-looking scenarios and spelling out ethical and social tensions.

In this context, we place a special focus on the current human rights framework and how cyber threats and technical solutions may have an impact on it.

To speculate about our AI-infused society in 2025, the EU-funded SHERPA project convened a series of workshops that led to the development of five scenarios on technologies that mimic people, information warfare, driverless cars, predictive policing and learning buddy robots.

Each scenario introduces the technologies and applications that may be available in 2025, a brief vignette to illustrate how the technologies or applications may be used, their ethical, legal, social and economic impacts, and the recommendations to reach a desired future and avoid an undesired one.

The workshops brought together a wide range of stakeholders from academia, industry, civil society organisations, the media, regulators, educationalists, technologists, cybersecurity experts and artists to brainstorm on these five different areas and what the future might hold for us. The result of the scenarios is a set of recommendations to policymakers.

SHERPA future scenarios on AI

Why use scenarios?

Unlike many other scenario methodologies, our approach is specifically designed to engage stakeholders from the beginning to the end of the scenario construction process. Indeed, the legitimacy of our scenarios stems from inviting increasing numbers of stakeholders to comment on each iteration of the scenario. These and other features make the policy scenario methodology both innovative and well-suited to be an instrument of policymaking.

The use of scenarios as techniques that can bring together different types of knowledge and act as platforms for knowledge brokerage.

Just as scenarios serve different purposes, so there are different types of scenarios.

Different types of scenarios


Review the SHERPA scenarios here.

For more information on our work in this research area contact our team:



This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, under grant agreement No 786641.

David Barnard-Wills

David Barnard-Wills is Senior Research Manager at Trilateral Research.

Nicole Santiago

Nicole Santiago is Senior Research Analyst at Trilateral Research.

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