#ESA2023 at the VivaTech conference


The European Student Assembly (ESA) was present at the VivaTechnology Conference (VivaTech) in Paris on June 17 in order to present the work of the Assembly, and more particularly the work of Panel 6: “How to ensure a fair and sustainable digital transition in a context of exploding demand and raw material scarcity?”. This event marks the beginning of the dissemination phase of ESA23.

Viva Technology is an annual technology conference dedicated to innovation and startups which welcomed over 150,000 people from 174 countries. This event was a unique opportunity for two of the ESA participants, Sciences Po student Juliette Helfi (CIVICA) and University of Sevilla student Elena Fernandez-Llebrez (Ulysseus university alliance), to take an active role in the dissemination phase of the ESA. They held a stand at the event and presented the recommendations made by their Panel. Their presentation was followed by a Q&A, which allowed them to have enriching interactions with the public. 

Juliette Helfi, ESA participant at VivaTech:

What made you want to take part in the VivaTech conference?

“Taking part in VivaTech kick-started our dissemination phase. I was keen on presenting the Digital Panel’s policy recommendations there since Vivatech epitomizes the effervescence of the tech sector. The event brought together startups, leaders, and tech enthusiasts. In my view, going to VivaTech was more than just presenting our recommendations. It was an opportunity to get out of the academic bubble in which we live during our university years to confront to reality and gain insights into the world of tech from a practitioner’s perspective.“

How was your experience there?

“My experience at Vivatech was simply enrapturing. At first, I was very impressed by the venue and the number of exhibitors. I felt like I was entering Ali Baba’s treasure trove. I was overwhelmed by the variety of innovations and tech solutions. The talks and conferences were also high-level and enabled me to listen to different opinions on the future of work, the ecological footprint of new technologies, Artificial Intelligence, its disrupting power and its possibilities as well as its pitfalls. As a participant, exchanging our recommendations with people was energising. I could witness people’s interest in our project and consider their questions or perspectives on our initiative to think of the recommendations in a new, practical light. Over the four days, I discovered and learned so much about the tech ecosystem and had the chance to exchange with individuals who pushed the boundaries of innovation to shape a brighter future through technology.”

How was it to work on a Panel related to digital transition? 

“Working on the digital transition was extremely rewarding. I would say the strength of our group lies in its diversity and multidisciplinary approach to the digital transition. We combined scientific and social perspectives on the digital transition to identify gaps in the European Union’s strategy to achieve a fair and digital transition and used our expertise to try and remedy these gaps. Indeed, we adopted a multi-dimensional approach to the digital transition based on legislation, sustainability and education to ensure that the global shift towards technology steers economies towards an inclusive and environmentally conscious digital future. I thoroughly enjoyed drafting the recommendations as it was an intense process where we confronted our visions of the European tech future, tackling challenges that new technologies and in particular Artificial Intelligence pose on our lives. I chose to work on the digital transition as I am convinced that new technologies will play an increasingly important role in societies. Young people have a responsibility to make sure that these technologies will be used for the common good and that enough regulation frames their use without hampering innovation. It is our role to shape technologies to keep on improving our lives. However, under no circumstances should new technologies shape our societies without human supervision.”

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This article was first published on the blog of the European Universities Community (EUC).