The Principle of Precaution in an Information Society

Pervasive Computing and its Effects on Health and on the Environment; expert study (2003)


Pervasive Computing refers to visionary new ways of applying Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to our daily lives. It involves the miniaturisation and embedding of microelectronics in non-ICT objects and wireless networking, making computers ubiquitous in the world around us. Unlike most of today’s ICT products, Pervasive Computing components will be equipped with sensors enabling them to collect data from their surroundings without the user’s active intervention. If our daily life is to be pervaded in such ways by microelectronic components, running all the time with most of them wirelessly networked, one must ask whether these technologies might not have undesirable side-effects. The expected benefits need to be weighed against the potential risks involved in implementing such technological visions.

Results and downloads

The precautionary principle in the information society. Effects of Pervasive Computing on Health and Enviroment. Report of the Centre for Technology Assessment, TA 46e/2005 e, Lorenz Hilty, Siegfried Behrendt, Mathias Binswanger, Arend Bruinink, Lorenz Erdmann, Jürg Fröhlich, Andreas Köhler, Niels Kuster, Claudia Som, Felix Würtenberger, Bern, 2005

Our everyday life caught in a network of smart objects. Summary of the TA-SWISS study «The Precautionary Principle in the Information Society», Centre for Technology Assessment, TA-46A/2003 e, Bern, 2003 (PDF 260 KB)

Learn more

Exploring the Business and Social Impacts of Pervasive Computing, SwissRe, IBM, TA-SWISS, March 2006


28.09.05 Technologieschub Pervasive Computing: Dialog über Chancen und Risiken
23.09.03 Gegenstände - Folgen für Mensch und Umwelt

Zum Thema erschienen

  • Danielle Bütschi et Lorenz Hilty, 2003. „Société de l’information et développement durable: le couple impossible?“, in La Revue Durable, No 8, décembre 2003-janvier 2004.
  • Human and Ecological Risk Assessment Review, Vol. 10, No5, 2004: Special section on „Human and environmental Impacts of pervasive computing“.
  • IEEE Technology and Society Review, Vol. 24, No1, spring 2005: Special issue on Sustainable pervasive computing
  • Danielle Bütschi et Andreas Köhler, 2005. „Pervasive Computing: Vorsicht ist geboten“, in Technikfolgenabschätzung – Thoerie und Praxis, Nr 1, 14. Jg., März 2005.
  • SwissRe, IBM, TA-SWISS, 2006, Exploring the Business and Social Impacts of Pervasive Computing, March 2006


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