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CERN to host conference on the Role of Science in the Information Society

Geneva, 2 December 2003. On 8 and 9 December, CERN1 will host the Role of Science in the Information Society (RSIS) conference, together with UNESCO, the International Council for Science, and the Third World Academy of Sciences. A Summit Event to the first phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (Geneva, 10-12 December), RSIS is a grassroots initiative to bring science into the picture of the Summit. Press briefings at RSIS will enable journalists to delve deeper into the intersection of science, communication, and society.

Today's scientists collaborate zealously, finding innovative ways to send information around the world at ever-greater speeds. While the scientific community supplies the driving force and technical know-how behind many cutting-edge information and communication technologies (ICTs), however, scientists have played little part in determining how those technologies can best be used.

"In terms of communication technologies, scientists are years ahead of other sectors of society," says Hans Hoffmann, Director of Computing and Technology Transfer at CERN. "So we're in a good position to see how these technologies can be applied to other kinds of problems in the near future."

Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee, Indonesian ICT activist Onno Purbo, and Romanian President Ion Iliescu will speak at the conference, along with many other distinguished scientists, policy makers, and members of civil society. "Knowledge is a key catalyst for development, especially when combined with the enormous potential of information and communications technologies," says WSIS Preparatory Committee President Adama Samassékou, who will speak at RSIS. "Through the innovative use of these technologies, we have the ability to share traditional knowledge as well as scientific discovery among the world's peoples as never before, and the opportunity to expand our collective knowledge and improve mutual understanding."

"Oracle is pleased to be associated with CERN's Role of Science in the Information Society conference as our technology is a critical contributor to the information society and to CERN's scientific research," says RSIS speaker Juan Rada, a senior vice president of Oracle Corporation.

During the first half-day of the conference, plenary speakers will give their perspectives on the past, present, and future of science, ICTs, and society. The following morning, attendees will divide into parallel sessions where they will explore one of five areas in more depth: enabling technologies, economic development, health, environment, and education. The plenaries will reconvene that afternoon, when participants will hear the results of the parallel sessions, a visionary panel, and closing remarks.

Some of the speakers will answer questions about their talks at one of three informal press briefings. Press registration is available.

In parallel with the conference, CERN will hold a Science and Information Society forum at the ICT for Development platform in Geneva's Palexpo centre during the World Summit. The forum will serve as a venue for scientific organizations to exhibit their ICT-related initiatives, and will also display the first Web server and information about CERN and RSIS. The platform will be open to the public from December 9-13.

A live webcast of the RSIS conference will show during the conference at http://webcast.cern.ch/live.php.

Notes for editors

CERN is the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, the world's largest fundamental scientific research centre. Founded in 1954, the laboratory was one of Europe's first joint ventures and includes now 20 Member States, as well as formal cooperation agreements with over 30 other nations worldwide.

Founded in 1931, the International Council for Science (ICSU) is a non-governmental organization whose mission is to strengthen international science for the benefit of society. The ICSU membership includes both national scientific bodies (101 members) and international scientific unions (27 members).

The Third World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) is an autonomous international organization, founded in Trieste, Italy in 1983. With more than 600 Fellows and Associate Fellows, elected from among the world's most distinguished scientists, TWAS's principal aim is to promote scientific capacity and excellence for sustainable development in the global South.

The main objective of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is to contribute to peace and security in the world by promoting collaboration among nations through education, science, culture and communication in order to further universal respect for justice, for the rule of law and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the world, without distinction of race, sex, language or religion, by the Charter of the United Nations.

Further Information

Shawna Williams, RSIS Information Officer, tel. +41 22 767 3559, email Shawna.Williams@cern.ch

The RSIS conference is sponsored by Oracle, the Republic and Canton of Geneva, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, the Santa Fe Institute, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council, the Spanish Ministry of Science and Technology, and the Swedish Research Council, and the African Virtual University.

1. CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, has its headquarters in Geneva. At present, its Member States are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. India, Israel, Japan, the Russian Federation, the United States of America, Turkey, the European Commission and UNESCO have observer status.