An alternative approach to technology research

In a report published by the World Economic Forum, the organisation explains how the fourth Industrial Revolution will impact everyone in the way they live, work and relate to one another. The so-called “master-technology” of this fourth Industrial Revolution is Artificial Intelligence (AI). Yet there is a passive attitude amongst the public, driven in part by media portrayal, that something will happen to ‘us’.

The BBC want to change this attitude. If AI will have this big of an impact on the public, they should be engaged with its development, as well as have their views represented in discussions about the future of our society. The BBC want to understand what’s important to people so that they can help audiences flourish in this technological age.

This presents opportunities not only for the BBC, but the industry at large. If they can understand what people want from life, and how they want to spend their time, the BBC can innovate to better meet their longer-term needs.

What did the BBC do?

The BBC conducted research in the UK and commissioned Populus to conduct the international qualitative research. They set out to answer two main question in this research:

  1. What problems do citizens identify in their lives? What problems could technology help address?
  2.  What are the activities, ambitions and dreams that matter most? How do people want to spend their time and what are things that get in the way?

The research focused on the following:

It is in the BBC’s interest to convince people in the UK that AI can serve human needs, and not just the needs to tech companies and corporations. Rather than viewing technological developments like AI with suspicion, they should be seen as something that will benefit everyone. By identifying the technology challenges centred on people’s lives, the BBC are taking a first step to create a citizen-centred approach to AI developments that fulfills the promise of this transformative technology.

Read the full report here.