“Technology can orchestrate our diverse contributions to a particular task so it can allow each of us to play our part…”

—Jutta Treviranus

How can emerging technologies be leveraged to benefit Canadians?

The complexities of the digital age and the rapid expansion of disruptive technologies—including 3D printing, robotics, automation and artificial intelligence—are generating a need to better understand the economic, social, environmental, philosophical and legal implications of their development, adoption and use. Social sciences and humanities are uniquely positioned to build knowledge on the past, present and future human dimensions that influence the creation of technologies, their impacts and their possibilities. This includes understanding the opportunities and risks associated with the investment in—and adoption of—emergent and disruptive technologies, as well as the need for effective participation, training and tools that would optimize their use and enable equitable access.

Technology is crucial, but innovation itself is a human endeavour. As such, social sciences and humanities research is key to content development, business planning and marketing, training, and governance. Dynamic new technologies are also enabling, accelerating and influencing deep conceptual changes in the research environment, the economy, industry and society.

Questions for further exploration:

  1. What is needed in order to maximize equitable access to information and communication technologies, foster digital literacy, and mitigate the digital divide in Canada and the world?
  2. In what ways might emerging technologies affect the behaviour of citizens in all aspects of their lives, institutions and governments?
  3. Why does society need to understand the risks, opportunities and related ethical questions raised by the adoption of emergent and disruptive technologies (e.g., 3D printing, robotics, nanotechnology, fracking, drones)?
  4. How can citizens, organizations and governments balance competing needs of security and privacy in an increasingly “open” society?
  5. How might Canadians be affected by new developments in “big data,” data analytics and information management?
  6. How might space exploration be important for the future of Canadian research, education, and inspiration?

Find out more about this Knowledge Synthesis Grant