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The OECD’s Committee for Scientific and Technological Policy (CSTP) brings together representatives from OECD countries, and a number of partner economies, to examine major aspects of public policy relevant to science, technology and innovation (STI). By guiding the OECD’s empirical research and data gathering, and promoting peer-based learning, the Committee works to improve understanding of these policies and, ultimately, to advance policymaking itself.

The digital revolution and its implications have been central to the OECD’s, and CSTP’s, work for many years. Recently – during 2017 and 2018 – the OECD’s Going Digital project comprehensively examined digital technology’s economic and social impacts. The resulting report, Going Digital: Shaping Policies, Improving Lives, provides a roadmap for policy making in the digital age.

In 2015, in their joint declaration, ministers from OECD countries and partner economies, at the OECD Ministerial Meeting in Daejeon (Korea), recognised that digital technologies are revolutionising STI. Ministers highlighted that the rapid development of digital technologies is changing the way scientists work, collaborate and publish; increasing the importance of access to scientific data and publications; opening new ways for the public to engage and participate in science and innovation; facilitating research co-operation between businesses and the public sector; contributing to the transformation of how innovation occurs; and, driving the next production revolution. The ministers asked the OECD to monitor this ongoing transformation.

This publication examines digitalisation’s effects on STI and the associated consequences for policy. It draws mainly on work performed under the aegis of CSTP during 2017 and 2018. Some of the topics addressed are longstanding themes in CSTP’s work – from access to publicly funded research data, to the measurement of digital science and innovation. Other topics are newer and emerging, from the role of artificial intelligence in production, to how digital technology could help utilise the collective intelligence of the scientific community, to recent advances in the digitalisation of biotechnology.

Certain aspects of the digital revolution are still relatively new, even if their effects are already profound. It is evident that, owing to the general-purpose character of digital technology, its future development will also have far-reaching consequences. As digital technology and its many ramifications evolve, CSTP will continue to serve as a unique international and inter-governmental focal point for policy analysis and guidance in the field of STI.

This book was declassified by CSTP on 12 August 2019 by written procedure and prepared for publication by the OECD Secretariat.

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