If ever there was a year in which technology has transformed the ways in which we live our lives, it has been 2020-21. Gone are the meetings in formal committee rooms, and the casual chat with a colleague over a cup of coffee, and enter the plethora of video conference facilities that now shape our lives.
Perhaps one of the most fascinating aspects of this to me (as an entirely biased social scientist!) is how the challenge that society faces, combined with the technology at our fingertips, has led to profound (and I suspect long-lasting) shifts in our social practices. But how will technology change our lives in future?
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport have recently released a guide detailing their top 10 Tech Priorities, summarised as follows:
- Rolling out world-class digital infrastructure nationwide
- Unlocking the power of data
- Building a tech-savvy nation
- Keeping the UK safe and secure online
- Fuelling a new era of start-ups and scaleups
- Unleashing the transformational power of tech and AI
- Championing free and fair digital trade
- Leading the global conversation on tech
- Levelling up digital prosperity across the UK
- Using digital innovation to reach Net Zero
Arguably, whilst none of these are new/surprising thematic areas, they do – in themselves – embed challenging research questions in which academic research will be integral to secure and progress societal expectations.
Furthermore, although they are labelled as ‘tech’ priorities – for me, they are inherently interdisciplinary in their very nature. Effective leadership and engagement surely requires a multidisciplinary approach, achieving net zero won’t happen with technological solutions alone – we will also need profound social change. Barriers to start-ups and scaleups aren’t necessarily owing to a lack of innovation, but around how IP is protected, understood and shared.
As a community of researchers, it is important that we consider and challenge the technological imperative and draw upon our interdisciplinary strengths to contribute effectively to our future. What could you do to contribute to this agenda and progress academic research with it? Do you and your collaborators have fundamental research questions that could provide this insight, that as a University we can support you in developing? If so, could you consider developing an EoI for our next SIA open call for concepts?
BU is committed to nurturing the game-changing research concepts which will define our future, through our Strategic Investments Areas (SIAs). To learn more about the current SIA EoI call for transformative research concepts, sign-up now for one of our open briefing sessions or learn more on the staff intranet.