Digital Futures?

BSA Presidential Event 2018

22 November 2018
Churchill Room, The Treasury, Whitehall, LONDON

The rapidly changing world of digital systems, digital data and new methods of digital data analytics, particularly artificial intelligence, raise profound questions about the shape of near-future societies. Whatever promises are made for the latest round of new technologies – and a lot of promises are made – it is clear that how these evolve and how they come into everyday use is deeply shaped by social processes.  There is nothing inevitable how our digital futures will shape up and everything to gain from understanding and engaging in these new sociotechnical assemblages as they emerge.

This event will showcase cutting edge sociological research that does precisely this. The event will bring together leading experts on three key aspects of our digital futures: work, youth and culture. In each of three sessions, two short evidence-based overviews of the key issues will be presented by sociologists, with a policy response from a leading government official. A wider audience of sociologists and policy officials will have the opportunity to discuss the issues raised and take part in a short networking reception at the end of the day.

Sociologists have a major contribution to make to public policy.

Our theories, concepts and methods offer insight to social lives and social change, opening up powerful understandings that link everyday life with particular institutional structures and wider global processes.  We are uniquely positioned to offer critical insight and constructive engagement.

In the rapidly changing world of digital systems, digital data and artificial intelligence it is critical that sociological expertise is brought to bear on how government responds to the pressing challenges and opportunities that face us. On 22 November 2018 the British Sociological Association will be holding its first event inside Whitehall, designed to bring together leading sociological researchers and policy officials working on digital society. Our aim is to engage sociological and policy experts on key issues for the digital near-future and to build collaborative networks.

The event will be held in the Treasury and is invite only for logistical reasons. We will be holding a Twitter Q&A prior to the event and will be live blogging from the event. We welcome all comments and suggestions for future events.