As Waag Futurelab’s Research Director, Sander van der Waal is responsible for its research agenda, working in close collaboration with the research groups Make, Learn, Code, and Life, as well as the managers of the 10 constituent research labs. He focuses on ensuring that Waag’s work contributes to the research, design and development of a sustainable, just society. Not just locally in Amsterdam, but also nationally in the Netherlands, and on the European level, he has been putting Waag’s principles of openness, fairness and inclusivity into practice. Sander maintains and develops a strong network of research partners and represents Waag on stage in debates, events and webinars. Sander has an educational background in computer science and philosophy and has solid expertise and experience in open-source software development, open data and knowledge, and data infrastructures.
Putting the public interest at the heart of Europe’s digitalisation efforts
Digital technologies are becoming so pervasive that they are touching every corner of our societies. There was relentless optimism in the first few decades since the arrival of the internet in Europe in the nineties. A largely unregulated market would ensure great benefits for everyone, and innovation was not to be hindered by regulations. Since a couple of years a different approach is becoming prominent: in many parts of Europe organisations and governments have realised that technologies can cause great harm if not embedded within strong public policies and regulations. But how do we build technologies that put the public interest at heart? And what are the key principles and aspects to consider to ensure technologies work for our benefit, not just for that of a major technology company? In this talk, Sander will explain how Waag’s research on this over many years has culminated in the development of a Public Stack model: an approach towards technology that Waag is putting into practice in their own projects. And one that aligns with many great initiatives in the Netherlands and Europe that are gaining traction. The Public Stack model builds on trends in open source software, open data, and privacy-by-design. It harnesses the power of co-creative methodologies with the ambition that everyone who is affected by technology has a say in how it will be designed and developed. Sander will specifically highlight developments in education and research, and takes inspiration from technological developments and experience in other sectors, such as media and renewable energy.