Next Generation Search and Discovery

A child playing cache-cache. CC BY 2.0, created by Jérôme Decq https://www.flickr.com/photos/lesphotosdejerome/5958094770

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The first call of NGI Zero Discovery opened up on December 1st 2018, with a deadline for submission of February 1st 2019 12:00 CET.

Submission is open

There is something strangely intimate about seeing what people search for - it somehow feels like peeking right into their brain as they attempt to interface with technology on someone elses terms. Search makes people transparent and vulnerable: there are no euphemisms, no cloaks you can wear when you have to talk to a machine that needs to sieve through a large pile of information for you - yet. But perhaps we can change that? And while we are at it: can we shift the asymmetric balance of power between technology providers and users? Can we improve the efficiency of search? What else can we do better?

The internet and the world wide web have entirely changed our ability to search for what we need and to discover what we don't yet know. An multi-trillion industry has emerged to help us navigate the abundance of information space - which comes as no surprise if you look up the origins of the the term cyberspace. It has become very clear that the societal stakes are immensely high for remaining in control. Few understand the complex interplay and huge economic and human impact of such a seemingly simple technical service. There is a cumulative real-world impact when many millions of people depend on specific intermediaries to find a hotel, to search about political background facts or to fall in love based on the presentation and raning of their counterpart. It matters not only what you type into the search bar of a browser, but very much also who answers that call, by what means and on what grounds - and what they log about you, what data they have already and whom they share what derived knowledge with. The technologies we have for search and discovery shape our societies and economies in a very concrete and systematic sense of the term, and shift our view of the world. How do we make sure that the core human values we hold high as society are strenghtened rather than anything else?

The pen may be mightier than the sword, but how does it fare against the search button?

There is a lot of work ahead. More agency, autonomy and resilience through open source technologies for search, avoiding pitfalls of personalisation such as echo chambers and self-enforcing tunnel vision; alternative filtering and ranking algorithms to better assist higher-level human intent, ideals and principles; content and communities that can be linked, enriched, understood and discovered through use of open standards for annotation and metadata; safe decentralised market places where anyone has the same opportunities; can we improve the usability of non-traditional modalities of search, such as voice search; how to afford users more privacy? These are but a few of the tasks we challenge researchers and developers to undertake.

We need your contributions to help reshape the state of play, and to help create an open, trustworthy and reliable internet for all. And of course such contributions do not happen automatically. This is why between now and 2021 we will award 5.6 million euro in small to medium-size R&D grants towards improving search and discovery. We are looking for new ideas and core technologies that help society tackle hard but very very important questions, each of which has significant social and economic consequences:

We are seeking project proposals between 5.000 and 50.000 euro's - with the potential to scale them up if there is proven potential. Search should not be a gatekeeper, a black box or a privacy nightmare. If the internet is the equivalent of a global brain, we need creativity and diversity in the pathways across that brain to unlock its true potential. Search and discovery are basic human needs for humans of all ages, and we would like to put powerful new technology in the hands of future generations as building blocks for a fair and democratic society and an open economy that benefits all.

The first call of NGI Zero Discovery opened up on December 1st 2018, with a deadline for submission of February 1st 2019 12:00 CET.

Submission is open

Next Generation Internet

We want an open Internet that allows every citizen to interact and, from all walks of life, to take part in the online society. We want an internet that empowers citizens not discriminates them - Roberto Viola

The internet can and should bring out the best in all of us.
Next Generation Internet initiative logo

The overall mission of the Next Generation Internet initiative is to re-imagine and re-engineer the internet for the third millennium and beyond to shape a value-centric, human and inclusive society for all. How we share and retrieve information is an essential part of that equation. The internet can and should bring out the best in all of us. It should enable human potential, mobility and creativity at the largest possible scale – while dealing responsibly with our natural resources. Doing so is essential to preserve and expand the European way of life. The Next Generation Internet initiative aims to mobilise the best ideas to improve how we find and connect people, devices, services and ideas.

Discovery and identification technologies: to search and access large heterogeneous data sources, services, objects and sensors, devices, multi-media content, etc. and which may include aspects of numbering; providing contextual querying, personalised information retrieval and increased quality of experience.

Read more at NGI.eu

Acknowledgements

Logo European Commission

NGI0 Discovery is made possible with financial support from the European Commission's Next Generation Internet programme, under the aegis of DG Communications Networks, Content and Technology.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 825322.