Research is not a linear process. It gets messy. Or maybe I should say, MY approach to research has been messy.
I'm currently enrolled in the final course of my masters in communications and technology (MACT) program, Advanced Seminar in Research Design. Each week, we are unpacking a set of instructions on how to do research with the goal of delivering a solid literature review by the end of the course. Topics include "planning a systemic process for a literature review" and "building eligibility criteria and managing your search data". It's now week 5 and I'm starting to fall behind. This is because I'm still not sure about my actual research question.
Many people go to grad school with a very clear idea of what they want to know. Often they have a question that's driven them to pursue some answers in an academic setting. For me, it was more of this nagging feeling....a mix of some unresolved goals to further my education, wanting to build a scholarly community with like-minded people and a desire to better understand this time in our history. We're living through a moment of digital disruption that's challenging our sense of self at both the personal and societal levels. I saw this so clearly while working in media because it was one of the first industries to be massively upended by the internet. It's still uncertain as to where things will land for the media industry but we are living in the collateral damage of a "move fast and break things" worldview. At the same time, more people than ever have a voice. Anyone can publish a blog, produce a podcast, post to social media and be part of the conversation. But...where is this all heading? A few decades into the experiment, we are seeing that there are consequences and trade-offs that we didn't really think through. In fact, we didn't realize we were making these trade-offs at all.
We are on the brink of yet another massive game changing technology - artificial intelligence. The idea of artificial intelligence has been with us for decades, but recent advancements in computing power, masses of digital data and more powerful algorithms have converged to set the stage for AI to be woven into every part of our digital infrastructure. What are the choices we want to make in developing and deploying this powerful technology? That question has led me to start to explore the field of AI and ethics. However, its a big field! I need to define where exactly, I want to focus my energy.
I'm fortunate to have met some other folks who also want to learn about AI and ethics. Together, we are making our way through a large body of historical and current research that covers a lot of ground - everything from super intelligence and consciousness to what might be considered the more practical concerns around governance - and lot of places in between. I'll be posting updates on what we're reading, our discussions, my research process and progress. I'm hoping that readers of this blog might share their insights and maybe that will bring me one step closer to figuring out what exactly I want to focus on! The clock is ticking.
-- Katrina Ingram