The GenZ project arose from an important question: How will new digital technologies impact the everyday lives of the generation that has been born after the year 2000 – the Generation Z — and their children?
We realized that what we currently don’t know enough about interconnection between human-beings and new digital technologies to answer this question. One reason for the lack of knowledge is that research and technology development rarely put the human-being on the centre stage when considering this question; rather, the focus is on the development of digital technologies, the ways in which humans and communities react to or use new technologies, or how digital technologies could contribute to economic growth.
Humans are usually just taken for granted. In the GenZ project, we want to turn this perspective inside out and ask the question differently: What if the digital future was not driven by digital technologies but by humans? What do we need to do to strengthen human skills and capabilities and to enable a human-driven digital future?
Digital technologies are developing rapidly. We hear on a daily basis that artificial intelligence, virtual reality and mixed reality, sensor technologies, robots and wireless technologies are becoming more intelligent, invisible and ubiquitous. For human-beings, the high-speed development of these technologies is both a possibility and a challenge. Whether it’s a possibility or a challenge, new digital technologies will change our everyday lives, in homes, in schools and at work. They will become increasingly entangled with our everyday lives. The big question is that we don’t yet know how this will happen, we don’t really understand the processes this changes involves, and we may even not be aware of the change that is happening. This is a challenge that needs to be tackled.
The project includes three broad themes.
The co-evolution theme focuses specifically on the entanglement of new digital technologies and human everyday life. We cannot just assume that digital technologies automatically improve the quality and conditions of life. The aim is to understand better how humans live, learn and interact with, around and even inside digital technologies; to study the “seen but unnoticed”, often non-exceptional and routine ways in which technologies are integrated in our lives. With that knowledge our aim then is to explain how we could strengthen humans in order to live, learn to live and learn to learn in sustainable ways in the digital communities of the future. Technologies are possibilities rather than necessities.
The co-creation theme focuses on the interactive processes of how people work together in groups and communities to tackle and solve problems related to the digital future. We are interested in, for example, how knowledge in human sciences can be used to contribute to the development of new technologies for the socio-technical futures. It is said that artificial intelligence will destroy jobs in various industries; this is often called ‘creative destruction’. However, it is also said that artificial intelligence creates new possibilities and industries, for example in healthcare. The core question for us is: what are the new forms of collaborative work (i.e. collaboration and co-creation) that in this new situation will strengthen human beings and for example create new jobs? When we are able to identify and describe models for such co-creative processes, they can be generalised and used all around the world.
The resilience theme focuses on how the processes of individuals, communities and societies can be made stronger and more resilient as they use and develop intelligent and digital technologies. We study the dimensions of resilience in order to develop new technology-based solutions to find ways from creative destruction to creative resilience.
The digital future poses many challenges for humans. But at the core of this challenge is the need to understand how human skills can be developed and how humans can be strengthened for the emerging human-driven digital future.
We envision a future where humans will be able to achieve valuable, happy, rewarding and sustainable lives in societies and communities that are driven by human well-being and powered by intelligent technologies.
This is what GenZ is about.
Last updated: 25.2.2019