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A CERN Model for Studying the Information Environment

“Researchers, governments, and civil society must come together to help. This paper explores how CERN can serve as a model for developing the Institute for Research on the Information Environment (IRIE).By connecting disciplines and providing shared engineering resources and capacity-building across the world’s democracies, IRIE will scale up applied research to enable evidence-based policymaking and implementation. Where CERN “exists to understand the mystery of nature for the benefit of humankind,” IRIE will exist to understand the mystery of the information environment for the benefit of democracies and their citizens. While the laws of physics change slowly, the conditions within the information environment are little understood and changing rapidly through the addition of new technology. Additionally, studying the information environment will require analysis of personal and at times sensitive data of internet users, increasing the need for international collaboration. As CERN did by inventing new collaboration tools, IRIE will leverage those same technologies to unlock the collective genius of researchers and practitioners from a variety of fields to strengthen democracy, alongside interested citizens who contribute their own data and expertise. While there are obvious differences between the field of physics and those emerging to study the information environment, aspects of CERN’s development can guide the creation of IRIE, an institution that can uniquely address the growing needs of researchers.”

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