As a deaf MEP, when it comes to robotics I am particularly interested in assisted technologies for the inclusion of people with disabilities in society, education and employment.
While the opinion I am drafting aims to examine the question from a broader point of view, here I would like to highlight some issues which, too often, are forgotten.
There are many different types of assistive technologies, and in the long run they can change our lives, society and the world as we know it.
Robots, 3D printing, autonomous vehicles, brain-computer interfaces, synthetic biology, gene technology, biosensors - all of these could have specific uses as assistive technologies for people with disabilities.
I truly hope assistive technologies will help people with disabilities live an independent life, access inclusive education and have quality working opportunities and conditions.
In order to reach this goal, we must pay attention to cost, so that these technologies and innovations are not only available, but also affordable.
Although this is a huge opportunity for all of us, it is one that raises a series of legal and regulatory challenges. These are mainly of an ethical nature, and they need to be tackled in an efficient and inclusive manner.
This is why I have proposed a science and technology options assessment (STOA) project on 'assisting technologies for the inclusion of disabled people in society, education and jobs', which Parliament plans to launch on the international day of people with disabilities.
This subject is timely, given that the Commission is about to publish a proposal on achieving a greater level of accessibility for people with disabilities.
Therefore, I believe that we need the wider application of accessible solutions to be taken into account if we are to create a more sustainable society. In this regard, we should scrutinise the processes of automatization and computerisation, including the crowding-out effects of future technologies.
Obviously, these will not only affect people with disabilities, but also people without disabilities who have low skills and competencies. Will they lose their jobs to automats, or will their competencies be enhanced through new technologies?
My opinion will evaluate the further application of assistive technologies, and solutions will be examined in the wider context of an open labour market in Europe, and in line with new technological developments.