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Data and digital technologies are changing the world – we’ve been exploring how policymakers can adapt.

The challenge

The world is now in the midst of what is often called a ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’: the era of widespread automation of industry, made possible by the greater availability of data and innovations in the use of that data (such as new digital technologies like AI).

As with previous industrial revolutions, the Fourth Industrial Revolution holds the potential to fundamentally alter methods of production, revolutionising our ways of working and shaping how we relate to each other in local and global contexts.

This poses a challenge for traditional policy-making approaches. The Fourth Industrial Revolution has given rise to rapid change, which has created, and is continuing to create, social and economic situations that are both novel and challenging. Policy action is necessary in these circumstances, however there is some uncertainty due to the lack of clear precedents and the risk of unforeseen consequences cascading at scale and pace.

Our work

As part of our international policy project Experimentalism and the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we’ve been exploring how policy-makers can respond to these conditions, asking what new approaches might be necessary or possible.

This is our final report of the project, and was launched at ODI Summit 2022: Data Decade in conversation with Audrey Tang, Taiwan’s Digital Minister. It lays out what we’ve learned and shares the resources we’ve put together along the way, covering:

  • the central role of data to the Fourth Industrial Revolution
  • the emergence of data policy and data practice as new disciplines ready for shaping
  • the need for policymakers to develop new adaptive capacities in order to steer us towards a Fourth Industrial Revolution in which data works for everyone
  • our project methodology which explored what this adaptive, inclusive approach could look like in practice
  • a summary of key themes and observations from our project, and with links to further project outputs including resource guides and audio-libraries

Get involved

We’ve published our report as an open document for reader contributions. Let us know what you think by adding your thoughts, reactions and commentary.

There’s more about the project and our project partners and multimedia resources on the project homepage.

We’re creating a community of data policymakers and data practitioners around this project. If you’d like to stay informed about the project or get involved as a project partner or collaborator then we’d love to hear from you! You can contact the team on [email protected].