Cross-border e-science and research partnerships for shaping better information and knowledge societies

22 Mar 2018 14:30h - 16:15h

Event report

[Read more session reports from the WSIS Forum 2018]

Dr Hadi Shahriar Shahhoseini, vice chancellor for international affairs, Iran University of Science and Technology, introduced the table and presented the main subjects to be discussed. He highlighted how communication technologies have changed the scientific environment paradigm and the way scientists share knowledge across borders, even creating a new method called e-science. This new paradigm, according to Shahhoseini, presents many new challenges, which were discussed in this session.

Dr Eun-Ju Kim, regional director, International Telecommunication Union (ITU), began her presentation by affirming the ITU’s character as a unique partnership platform, as it brings together state governments, sectors of industry, and civil society representatives. She explained how the ITU’s structures help create networks and foster partnerships. Kim addressed the question of the presence of academia in the ITU. According to her, the presence of academia is justified by the need for innovation and neutrality in technology. Kim presented the ITU’s platforms for academia: study groups and the ‘Kaleidoscope’ platform, which allows for the publishing of academic work.

Dr Gilles Falquet, associate professor at the University of Geneva, began by defining e-science as the sharing of data and computing power over a network so that scientists can collaborate. Much of the research on e-science is based on data, and therefore most scientists want to collaborate and exchange knowledge and data through digital means. He presented a brief history of the means of sharing knowledge in science through the years, and how the basic form is still the same as it was in the nineteenth century: written books and articles. Falquet presented methods in which artificial intelligence and algorithms can analyse articles and graphs and extract data much more efficiently to answer increasingly complex questions and to better communicate in science. Instead of sending articles to centralised places like books or journals, a decentralised and much more efficient way of sharing knowledge is created.

Dr Kaveh Bazargan, assistant professor at Shahid Beheshti University, spoke about the global challenges regarding computer-human interaction (CHI). Bazargan cited increasingly common cyberattacks as evidence of the importance of global computer-machine discussions. He explained how countries have been trying to partner through various groups to develop advances on CHI. To Bazargan, a holistic view of the matter requires social progress. He described two types of knowledge: that based on inputs and outputs, which is traditional scientific knowledge; and contextual knowledge, which relates to how local problems are being solved. Bazargan believes that if social institutions such as religion and culture are not being talked about in WSIS and in e-science environments, then the discussion is bound to fail.

Dr Younes Shokrkhah, head of the Iranian Studies Association on Information Society at the University of Tehran, talked about the points which shape the current conceptions of e-science and its future. He believes the necessary infrastructure for e-science is ready. A critical point to be noticed is the importance of data in this new form of science. He stated how he values people, institutions, or groups that can raise awareness of the importance of science and e-science. According to Shokrkhah, professors, journalists, and academics involved in e-science need to be issue-oriented, and not event-oriented. He questioned who is responsible to gather, treat, preserve, and disseminate scientific data in the information society. In the last case, it is important to do so in a way that can be understood by most people. He considers it necessary to foster participation and sharing among the scientific community and media.

Dr Alireza Yari, head of the Research Faculty Department at the ICT Research Institute, focused his presentation on the local impacts of science partnerships. To him, in the information society, collaboration and sharing in science is vital, as well as the transfer and exchange of knowledge and technologies. The most important factors are geographical, market size, level of capability, and infrastructure. Most companies are not used to sharing knowledge as a strategy. There should be a process to shape the idea of knowledge sharing between companies.


By Pedro Vilela