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Topics C

Oficina C is responsible for regularly preselecting a series of topics with a strong scientific-technical component and of potential relevance for Spain in the medium to long term. This preselection is presented to the Bureau of the Congress, which decides the topics for the production of the Reports C.

Oficina C shortlists the topics of interest in collaboration with the Advisory Committee. The selection of topics results from interviewing national and international experts, and the assessing future trends in science and technology.

The photo shows a human stem cell during the early stages of becoming a neuron. The DNA is coloured in red, and the cell skeleton in blue. In the image you can see show six spherical particles, containing DNA and therefore in red, moving away from the cell nucleus.
"Let´s get going". Edition: FOTCIENCIA18. Author: Carlos Bueno López.

The quality of life of older people is a challenge that transcends the field of health and encompasses new scientific, social, and technological obstacles as life expectancy rises. During the last 15 to 20 years of life, a large proportion of individuals experience poor health or high levels of dependency. There are numerous factors that can contribute to senior well-being. On the one hand, understanding the biological factors of ageing can promote better health at all stages of life and delay the ill effects of ageing. Alternatively, the analysis should be expanded to include the socioeconomic dimensions of ageing (social isolation, digital exclusion, loneliness, the social perception of old age, socio-health policies, and so on), as well as the new opportunities for human care and attention made possible by digital technologies and robotics. This multidisciplinary evaluation of scientific evidence can aid in the formulation of public policies and social and health care services.

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In recent years, the number and severity of forest fires in Spain have increased. One of Spain's risks is that summer is getting longer, which is when risks are at their highest. Prevention, response, and subsequent management of degraded lands, as well as technological tools for monitoring and response to optimise extinction, are of particular interest in the fight against forest fires. Nevertheless, forest management is the main backbone. It needs to be adapted to the needs and specifics of each territory and connected to its people, promoting the resistance and resilience of the territory, the recovery of soils, and the reactivation of the water cycle.

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Even though brain anatomy and basic circuitry are the same for everyone, the way neurons connect to each other is very different, which makes us all unique. Neuroscience is advancing in its ability to comprehend the healthy and pathological human brain, detect consciousness, map neuronal functions, and comprehend their computational capacity. This knowledge also enables the development of various technologies based on connecting the human brain to machines in order to improve health and generate new products for leisure, surveillance, and education. Nevertheless advances in neuroscience pose new ethical and regulatory problems for society (neuro-rights, impact on personal identity, freedom of thought, mental privacy, equitable access to cognitive enhancement technologies and protection against algorithmic biases).

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The improvement of air quality is related to scientific advancements and cross-cutting strategies or action plans that take into account urban and rural contexts, including industry, transportation, energy production and use, urban planning, waste and agricultural waste management, and land-use planning. Territorial particularities should also be identified, such as Spain's ozone challenge. The management of air quality also faces challenges associated with the emergence of new pollutants, monitoring and the availability of information, and health protection, particularly in vulnerable groups and their priority environments, such as hospitals, residences, and schools.

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Neurodegenerative diseases cause a progressive deterioration of the patient's nervous system, leading to disability and dependence. These include Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), among others. These pathologies are a challenge for public health and a priority social and health issue due to the vulnerability of those who suffer from them, the effects on their carers and loved ones, and in many cases the lack of treatments to cure or slow down the disease. What are the latest advances in the causes, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of these pathologies? What social and legal obstacles do they present, and how are they being addressed?

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Disinformation campaigns are understood to be coordinated, manipulative actions in the domain of information. There is scientific evidence regarding how people access information online and the impact of algorithms and social networks on the content that users see. Moreover, contemporary international events such as the pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine have heightened the need to analyse and research disinformation campaigns, as well as the social strategies and technological advancements that can mitigate their negative effects.

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Hydrogen produced by renewable energies plays a key role in the energy transition towards a carbon-free economy in 2050. This Report C analyses the green hydrogen value chain - production, storage, distribution and end uses - and discusses the implementation challenges for the sector.

Digitalization and recent advances in artificial intelligence (AI) have great potential in the health care system. Implementaing the latest breakthroughs in AI could help the national health system by supporting decision-making and administrative management. This Report C examines the readiness of different IA applications in the healthcare area and highlights its challenges (in particular, the access and handling of data), and its social, ethical and regulatory implications.

Almost 300.000 people are diagnosed with cancer in Spain every year, having a significant personal, social and economic impact. The latest developments in cancer diagnosis and treatment are changing the way we approach the disease. This Report C offers a comprehensive overview of cancer in the Spanish context.

This Report C discusses challenges involved in the development of a society that is competitive and technologically advanced, as well as secure and immune to cyber-attacks. This challenge affects connected factories (an attack can paralyse a manufacturing process) as well as everyday objects (wearable appliances), plugged-in (IoT), or sensitive and strategic infrastructures.