Rapid advancements in digital technologies have major implications for how people participate in society and the provision of public services. We aim to explore how such technologies alleviate, exacerbate and shift vulnerability, and affect concepts of trust, evidence and authority.
The impact of digital technologies and communications is one of the main themes identified in our strategy and cuts across our work in Education, Welfare and Justice. We have also established the Ada Lovelace Institute to ensure that data and AI work for people and society.
Our research explores how digital technologies affect people’s ability to exercise their rights and solve their problems, both in the formal setting of courts or tribunals, or when bargaining in the shadow of the law.
In an education context, we want to understand more about how people acquire digital skills and how digital technologies can improve teaching and learning, parental engagement and child development.
Fundamental to our work in digital society are questions about the collection, linkage and uses of data. We are interested in this from a rights and privacy perspective, as well as how the data infrastructure can be used or improved to better understand and explain people’s outcomes.
Our impact in digital society
We have established the Ada Lovelace Institute (Ada), an independent research and deliberative body with a mission to ensure data and AI work for people and society. Ada has published the first national survey of public opinion on the use of facial recognition technology and will establish a Citizens Biometric Council.
Our report by Dr Stephen Cave on the ethical and societal implications of algorithms, data and AI has stimulated debate about what research is needed in order to develop an ethical approach to the development and deployment of such technologies.
We published the first review of UK and international evidence on the effect of the use of digital technology on learning. Produced by Professor Angela McFarlane, the review found that computer use in schools does not on its own improve students’ digital literacy or prepare them for the workplace. The report provides a benchmark for evidence in this area and is informing new research proposals to investigate further.