What will the future look like?

The future holds many challenges. To provide focus and meaningful outputs, the centre has decided to define multi-annual topics from which specific research initiatives will stem.

For the triennial 2021-2023, WhatNext.Law will bring to the spotlight the opportunities and challenges of the cities of the future. The general topic “Cities of the Future” is divided in six different topics that represent the key areas where research, debate, and dissemination of knowledge will be most needed.

Public Governance
Smart cities require smart and futureproof regulation. In the everchanging smart city ecosystem the public sector, including public administration are also evolving. WhatNext.Law will assess how public law and administration can adapt to the upcoming challenges as well as to the impact of emerging technologies, such as AI and blockchain.
Mobility both public and private as well as infrastructure is essential for the cities of the future. Emerging technologies powered by 5G are disrupting the mobility sector providing new transformational and innovative means of transport and promoting sustainability. WhatNext.Law will stimulate investigation on these topics and the legal challenges and opportunities they bring about.
Automation & the City of the Future
Artificial Intelligence as a general-purpose technology is changing society and the economy. From banking and finance, business and commerce to mobility, public sector and healthcare, WhatNext.Law will address the manifold ethical, societal and legal challenges of AI applications and its impact on society and on the cities of the future.
Health & Wellbeing
From wearables to robotics and personalized healthcare to human enhancement, WhatNext.Law will tackle the challenges related to innovation in healthcare and wellbeing, such as respecting fundamental rights, ensuring access to healthcare, as well as addressing ethical challenges.
Platforms, E-commerce & Digital Contracts
New business models test traditional forms of commerce, consumer protection, and private law. From platforms to sharing and circular economy to digital contracts services and goods, WhatNext.Law will investigate how governance, law and regulation can mitigate risks associated with these areas while promoting digital innovation in the smart cities’ ecosystem.

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