Mental health, career support and improved physical health top major BBC study showing what people want from technology

Results of a major global BBC study into how people could benefit from technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) show mental health support (63%), getting a better job (61%) and improved physical health (55%) are key areas where technology could help improve their lives.

Overall, 78% of people said they wanted help with at least one problem in their lives and are open to technology to help them with this. However, currently, the benefits of these new technologies are not living up to people’s personal expectations. And, while as a nation in the UK, we’re evenly divided as to whether technology causes more stress than opportunity, 16-24 year olds are much more likely to consider it a stress whilst people 65 or older believe it is more of an opportunity.

People want technology to help them improve the key areas that drive satisfaction in their life – including health and wellbeing, life direction and personal improvement – with:

  • 34% say having enough money to enjoy their leisure time is a problem
  • 32% say physical health is a problem
  • 31% say body shape and weight is a problem
  • 29% say having enough money to make ends meet is a problem
  • 28% say their stress level is a problem
  • 26% say self-esteem and self-confidence is a problem

Optimism about society and how technology can improve it is higher – with 66% agreeing that technology overall is more of an opportunity than a threat to society. However, 75% of people the UK feel only somewhat or not at all valued by society with 50% thinking things will get worse for the UK, and 49% think it will get worse for the world. AI is currently seen as a threat, with one in eight saying that their current job is at risk because of technology.

Matthew Postgate, BBC Chief Technology and Product Officer, says: “Putting people at the heart of technological developments is integral to make sure we make the most of them. The BBC has been doing this since its inception – from colour TV to Ceefax, iPlayer to major events online. This new global study shows how important that is – and we hope by publishing it, it provides a useful resource to ensure technology benefits everyone with what people actually value – rather than for corporate gain.”

The BBC also revealed it has been using this research to develop guidelines around how it uses technology such as AI to ensure it maximises value for people in what it develops in the future.

The BBC has also been working with partners to develop a new apprenticeship to develop skills in AI and data.

The research comprised a multi-stage study, including an academic review, looking at models of ‘the good life’ across five markets, and quantitative research amongst a nationally representative sample in UK (5,000 people), Germany (2,000 people) and USA (2,000 people). The BBC also conducted qualitative research in UK (168 people), Nigeria (20 people), Mexico (20 people), China (20 people) and India (20 people). Research was conducted by Oxygen Brand Consulting, Harris Interactive and Populus.

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