Call for Discussion Papers: 'What are the possibilities of a good digital society?'


This call sets out the requirements for short discussion papers to be produced as part of a series that will generate cutting-edge ideas and innovative thinking to centrally shape the British Academy's programme activities within its policy theme on Digital Society. This page provides details of the work theme and its aims, along with guidelines on the deliverables, timeline, and how to respond to this call.

In 2022, the British Academy’s Public Policy team restructured its work into four overarching themes:

  1. Digital Society
  2. Social and Cultural Infrastructure
  3. Governance, Trust, and Voice
  4. Sustainability for People and Planet

The Digital Society theme is intended to draw upon the SHAPE disciplines to explore the ways in which digital technologies, tools, and practices shape and are shaped by our society, and to answer the questions of what makes for a good digital society and how policymakers can navigate the digital society in the coming decade. While STEM knowledge contributes to the development of things such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality, faster broadband, and quantum computers, it is SHAPE disciplines that provide understanding of how people react to them and use them, and of their social, political, economic, ethical, and cultural impacts – these are fundamental SHAPE issues that are crucial to policymaking. This year we are undertaking scoping work to define this programme of policy research in the Digital Society theme for the next few years.

Details of the call

Appendix – Digital Society: social impact matrix

Algorithms and Artificial Intelligence

Algorithmic modelling, including AI, machine learning, large language models
Digital Environments

Digital devices and resources in integrated systems, including social networking, VR, ‘smart’ systems, and the internet of things (IoT)
Digital Services

Forms of digital service provision, particularly relating to public service delivery

Data generation, acquisition, sharing, usage, and governance
Health and Wellbeing

Impacts on physical and mental health, wellbeing, and the environment we live in
Education and Research

Impacts on the education system (compulsory and tertiary), skills, knowledge, and research contexts
Growth and Innovation

Impacts on work and employment, productivity, and economic growth
Culture and Communities

Impacts on communities, civil society, cities and towns, family and kinship, and arts, media, culture, heritage, and sport

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