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Sociodigital Futures? An Agenda for Sociological Research and Practice

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We are currently surrounded by intense speculation about the impact of emerging digital technologies for future societies. Think of AI (in general), Large Language Models (in particular), drones, the ‘metaverse’, or the SpaceX rocket to Mars, and the wildly diverse claims about what these might mean for the future as all of these (to different degrees) become embedded in social life around the world. In this talk, I will explore the contribution that Sociology can and should make to understanding and intervening in these futures. The talk outlines an agenda for sociodigital futures research, drawing on a range of sociological perspectives and insisting on the importance of collaboration beyond Sociology, with other disciplines – particularly Engineering – and other forms of expertise beyond the Academy. Overall, we urgently require new and disruptive ways of knowing and intervening in sociodigital futures that might tip the balance towards fairer and more sustainable futures.

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