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“Things are not normal”: BBC R&D publishes report into emerging technologies

Rather than one ‘next big thing’, the report's contributors suggested a complex set of factors will enable and catalyse one another

The BBC’s research and development department has published a new report which aims to identify a set of emerging technologies that will impact the BBC over the next few years.

As part of the project, the team interviewed 22 people between December 2022 and June 2023 from areas such as science, economics, education, technology, design, business leadership, research, activism, journalism, and more.

The report collates all the different viewpoints and draws out common threads, focusing on five specific sections, including climate change, AI, social and economic drivers, and reasons to be hopeful about the future.

According to the report, rather than one ‘next big thing’, the contributors suggested a complex set of factors that will enable and catalyse one another.

It suggests that Generative AI and Large Language Models will continue to have “significant impacts” on how people work and their digital lives. “This will encompass generative AI for creating images, text, and video, in response to user input, Large Language Models (LLMs) for analysing natural languages (like English) and for finding patterns and structures in complex, chaotic data, and applications of AI in process automation,” the report states.

It adds that augmented reality (AR) systems which have contextual information about the user and their preferences, coupled with ways to interpret human behaviour and social cues, could be a transformative way for people to interact with the information world around them – though there was little interest in the ‘metaverse’ as currently described by organisations like Meta.

Anticipated improvements in the availability of smart, connected hardware, coupled with the AI boom could give a boost to smart homes, smart spaces and ubiquitous computing, adds the report.

The full report is available to read here.