[Image of a split circle appears with photos in each half of the circle flashing through of various CSIRO activities and the circle then morphs into the CSIRO logo]
[Image changes to show a new slide showing a finger linked to an electronic finger via a circular network of symbols and Emma Jakku can be seen in the top right talking and text appears: What have we learned about how to implement responsible innovation in digital agriculture?, Delivering Digital Landscapes, Emma Jakku and Simon Fielke, 22 March 2021]
Emma Jakku: I’m Emma Jakku. I led the Digiscape Social Dimensions Project. And so today, Simon and I are going to share with you some highlights from our research on implementing responsible innovation in digital agriculture.
[Image changes to show a new slide showing a drone flying above a grain crop and text appears: Overview, Research Context, Research aims and methods, What is Responsible Innovation?, What did we find?, Recommendation on implementing responsible innovation in digital agriculture, Next steps]
OK, so I’ll start by giving some background on our research context, our research aims and methods for this part of the project, and what we mean by responsible innovation. Then I’ll outline our research findings and some recommendations on implementing responsible innovation in digital agriculture. And then I’ll throw to Simon and he’ll wrap up with a look at our next steps, including some ways that you can get involved.
[Image changes to show a new slide on the main screen showing a flow chart diagram of the Digiscape Social Dimensions Project showing “Real world use cases” being linked to circled text “Identify and respond to social conditions and risks” and then to “Common ICT services and skills”]
So the Digiscape Social Dimensions Projects was one of the cross-cutting activities in Digiscape and our main objective was to help identify and respond to the social conditions and risks associated with digital transformation in agriculture and the land sector.
[Image changes to show Emma talking inset in the top right and a new slide appears on the main screen showing photos of the individual team members and text heading and text appears: Digiscape Social Dimensions Project Team, Emma Jakku, Sociologist (Science & Technology), Aysha Fleming, Environmental Sociologist, Bruce Taylor, Human Geographer, Rob Arcidiacono, Design & International Development, Andrew Terhorst, Innovation Researcher, Rob Garrard, Economist, Simon Fielke, Human Geographer, Identify and respond to social conditions and risks to ensure socially responsible development of technologies for agriculture and the land sector]
So our Social Dimensions Project Team brought together a diverse range of social science perspectives. We collaborated closely with our user experience and human-centred design colleagues in Digiscape and we also have strong links with the Responsible Innovation Future Science Platform.
[Image continues to show Emma inset on the right and a new slide appears on the main screen: Research aims and methods, Aims, Document learning from Digiscape’s innovation journey, Explore perceptions and experiences relevant to Responsible innovation, Translate these into practical recommendations for implementing Responsible Innovation in digital agriculture, Methods, Semi-structured interviews, 16 project leader interviews during Oct-Nov 2017, 17 project leader interviews during Apr-May 2020, Annual researcher surveys, Dec-Jan 2017/18, 2018/19 and 2019/20]
So our research aims were to document learnings from Digiscape’s innovation journey and explore Digiscape researchers’ perceptions and experiences relevant to responsible innovation. And we then used these insights to develop practical recommendations for implementing responsible innovation in the development of digital agriculture tools. So our methods included two rounds of semi-structured interviews with Digiscape project leaders, one in the early stages of Digiscape, and then a second round last year when many of the initial Digiscape projects were wrapping up. And we also conducted three rounds of annual researcher surveys with the broader cohort of Digiscape researchers.
[Image continues to show Emma inset on the right and a new slide appears on the main screen showing text: What is Responsible Innovation? Responsible Innovation means taking care of the future through collective stewardship of science an innovation in the present, Anticipation – Explore scenarios for possible and desirable futures, Engage with a broad range of diverse stakeholders, Consider underpinning assumptions and limits of knowledge, Listen, adapt and change direction if necessary]
So before I get stuck into our research findings, I want to give just a quick overview of what we mean by responsible innovation. So responsible innovation can be defined as a commitment to taking care of the future through collective stewardship of science and innovation in the present. And so this is important because although innovations have the potential to shape our future for the better, there can also be significant social, ethical, and policy challenges associated with new technologies. For example, artificial intelligence has many beneficial applications but there are also ethical issues, such as the potential for systemic bias and discrimination and these issues need to be addressed.
So there are four dimensions of responsible innovation and these are anticipation, inclusion, reflexivity, and responsiveness and these four dimensions highlight the value of exploring future scenarios with a broad range of stakeholders, taking time to reflect on underpinning assumptions and limits of knowledge, and then ensuring that we listen, adapt and change our approaches when necessary. So we use this framework of responsible innovation to explore how these responsible innovation dimensions featured in our interviews and surveys with Digiscape researchers.
[Image continues to show Emma inset on the right and a new slide appears on the main screen showing a photo of a Smartphone with “The Future is Calling” on the screen and text appears: Anticipation, Digiscape researchers mostly anticipated positive benefits and outcomes, Recognition of potential risks and challenges, “Provide enough information that farmers realise the value of changing the way they do things to improve their yields”, “Equipping farmers to manage their farms in a different and better way to reduce the impact of their practises”, “I also am well aware there is a risk with this stuff… the issues around privacy”]
So starting with anticipation, Digiscape researchers mostly anticipated positive benefits and outcomes from the work that they were doing. As you can see from the first two quotes in those blue boxes there on the right, the types of benefits that people talked about included helping farmers realise the value of changing the way they do things to improve their yields and also reduce the impacts of their practices. And there was also a strong emphasis on potential commercialisation opportunities for the tools being developed. But researchers also recognised the potential risks and challenges associated with the digital tools that they were developing, as seen in the third quote there about the risks around data privacy.
[Image continues to show Emma inset on the right and a new slide appears on the main screen showing a photo of coloured pencils and text appears: Inclusion, Two levels of inclusion, Internal – integration across multiple disciples, External – importance of user engagement, Interdisciplinarity and user engagement and co-development can be difficult and require new skills and new ways of working, “Challenge of appreciating that people are coming from a different disciplinary perspective… and how placing them together gives you synergies on your way to deriving… a real-world effect…”, “Co-development of digital products with end-users is critical”, “Really working with the stakeholders in understanding where they’re at so that the science can be embedded with their current context and… ways of working”]
And two levels of inclusion featured in the interviews. So at the internal level, researchers discussed the value of integration across multiple disciplines. For instance, the first quote there, the person talks about describing how bringing together people with different disciplinary perspectives can lead to valuable synergies and improved real-world effects. Now researchers also recognised the importance of externally focussed inclusion and this is specifically in regard to user engagement, which you can see in the next two quotes there that highlight the importance of co-development of digital products with end users and working with stakeholders to make sure that the science and products fit within the stakeholders’ current context. And so a reoccurring theme in the interviews was that both interdisciplinary and user engagement and co-development can be difficult and time consuming and require new skills and new ways of working.
[Image continues to show Emma inset on the right and a new slide appears on the main screen and wooden letters forming the word “Reflect” can be seen and text appears: Reflexivity, Digiscape Project Leaders’ reflections mostly focused on, Digiscape’s vision and legacy, Processes of technology development and innovation, Value proposition of products, “Opportunity to understand how we as scientists operate in a digital agricultural space”, “It is exciting to have CSIRO engage with and commit to an idea at such a significant scale”, “One of the things that we do that I’d never done before was ensuring we really have honest reflections after any new process, or every few months”]
In terms of reflexivity, we’ve found that Digiscape project leaders’ reflections mostly focussed on Digiscape’s vision and legacy and the process of technology development and innovation and this included reflecting on the value proposition of the products being developed. Now these things are evident in the first two quotes here that talk about reflecting on how scientists operate in the digital ag space as well as the excitement of being involved in something of such a significant scale. Some project leaders gave example of how they incorporated reflexivity into their project as seen in the third quote here that highlights the value of making time for honest reflections during project meetings.
[Image continues to show Emma inset on the right and a new slide appears on the main screen and four figures appear with a question mark, cogs, a light bulb, and an exclamation mark behind them and text appears: Responsiveness, Responsiveness also discussed both in terms of internal and external relationships, “Keep the conversation open with the other activities so that as their requirements mature we adapt the design”, “We have a process in place to address data security so that someone can’t hack into the system… we’re taking this stuff seriously”, “Greater awareness that there is this other way of working where we respond to customer pain points sooner rather than later”]
Responsiveness was also discussed in terms of both internal and external relationships. Internally, this was important because of the multiple and co-evolving projects within Digiscape which was how it was set up and you can see this in the first quote here that talks about the importance of keeping the conversation open with other activities in Digiscape to be able to adapt and, adapt designs when needed. Externally, responsiveness featured in discussions of the importance of understanding and responding to stakeholder concerns and needs and this is evident in the next two quotes about addressing concerns about data security and responding to customer pain points.
[Image continues to show Emma inset on the right and a new slide appears on the main screen showing symbols of colleagues in conversation, colleagues with a light bulb above them, a cog inside an outline head, and arrows forming a circle and text appears: Implementing Responsible AgTech Innovation, Start with open conversations about the problem, solutions and future scenarios, Anticipate production, environmental, and social implications of innovations, Listen and change, Maintain a responsive system, Anticipation & Inclusion, Reflexivity & Responsiveness]
So we drew on these, our analysis of the interview findings and also literature on responsible innovation and co-innovation in agriculture to develop a framework to help guide the implementation of responsible innovation for digital agriculture. And so you can see on the left there, the anticipation and inclusion dimensions highlight the importance of starting with open conversations with diverse stakeholders about the problem, alternative, and appropriate solutions, and possible future scenarios. And so this highlights that it’s important to take the time to understand the problem from different perspectives since this helps with anticipating the range of future positive and potentially negative implications of agricultural innovations.
And then the reflexivity and responsiveness dimensions highlight the need to listen and change. This means that researchers need to get out of their comfort zone and be open to learning from other perspectives and also acknowledging and responding to concerns about new technologies and doing so helps maintain an innovation system that is flexible, adaptive, and responsive.
[Image continues to show Emma inset on the right and a new slide appears on the main screen showing a Social Science and User Experience web page, a photo of a female operating a drone, and a drone hovering above a crop and text appears: New steps – get involved!, Responsible AgTech Symposium 27 May 2021, Brisbane or via webinar]
So although our project has officially wrapped up, we are still involved in a number of activities that are continuing our focus on implementing responsible innovation in digital agriculture. So now I’m going to hand over to Simon and he’s going to give a quick overview of the next steps in our work and how you can get involved.
[Image continues to show the same slide and the inset image changes to show Simon Fielke talking]
Simon Fielke: Thanks Emma. So, a few things that are still going or, or coming up that you might be interested in if this has kind of piqued your interest. The Social Science and User Experience Cross-Cutting Capability Community of Practice, so feel free to join that Yammer group and participate there. We’re also developing a short course as part of a contribution to the Centre for Entrepreneurial Agri-Technology based at Australian National University. That will be run sometime in the middle of [08.44] so feel free to get in touch with them or myself if that sounds of interest and finally on the 27th of May this year we’ll have the Responsible AgTech Cutting Edge Science Symposium. So that will be in Brisbane but also free to tune in virtually from everywhere. Thanks very much.
[Image changes to show the CSIRO logo and text appears: CSIRO, Australia’s National Science Agency]