Digiscape’s social dimensions project: what did we discover?

December 15th, 2020

Four potential scenarios for different possible futures of farming in Australia

Developing and implementing new technologies is shaped by social factors such as who is involved in the design process, people’s levels of interest, motivation and trust and changing farming demographics.

Social dimensions like these are in many ways just as important as the underlying technical aspects of new technologies. As new areas of science and technology come into play, it is important to understand and include different people’s views about the social and ethical impacts of new technologies.

Disruptions of one sort or another (think COVID-19) will continue to happen in the future, so learning how to use technology to build resilience, innovation and opportunities is important for everyone.

Social, ethical and trust dimensions

The Digiscape Social Dimensions project focused on improving our understanding of the social, ethical and trust dimensions of digital technologies that are seeking to transform agriculture and the land sector.

Our research shared insights into how to include stakeholder perspectives when developing digital tools to ensure socially responsible benefits and improved uptake. For example, we worked closely with the Carbon project to identify co-benefits (i.e. non-financial benefits of a land use change) as an important part of the broad decision-making context for landholders. In the Great Barrier Reef project, we co-developed a framework for understanding and tracking the digital experience that helps to explain the process of digital technology acceptance (or non-acceptance).

The broader context of digital technologies in the land sector

We also examined the broader context of digital technologies in the land sector, including the implications of new technologies for agricultural knowledge and advice networks, Australia’s policy networks relevant to digital agriculture and potential scenarios for different farming futures in Australia.

We also collaborated with CSIRO’s Responsible Innovation Future Science Platform to develop two short courses that translate CSIRO’s cutting-edge science on Responsible Innovation to build capacity for responsible agri-technology innovation in Australia.

Read more about the social dimensions project.

By Dr Emma Jakku