Satisfaction Guaranteed? The Challenges of Automation in Survey Research

Automation – ‘The use or introduction of automatic equipment in a manufacturing or other process or facility’ (OED)

Automation in the workplace is nothing new It has been around since the beginning of the industrial revolution.

What is new, however, is that developments in processing power, big data analysis and artificial intelligence mean that automation moved beyond the factory floor and routine office administration and is now ascendant in every aspect of the knowledge economy and even society. Questions about the legal rights and morality of sex with robots are now being raised as legitimate and serious concerns. Asimov’s Three Robotic Laws appear to have left the pages of fiction and are well on their way to a second reading.

Although the jury is still out as regards the ultimate consequences of the new automation for civilisation, the 250000 civil servants, the delivery drivers and the paralegal secretaries who are projected to lose their jobs may think that shape of the future is pretty clear.

The question for us is how is automation already affecting survey and opinion research, and where is it heading next?

The aim of this one-day conference was to explore this theme from both business and technical perspectives; to examine the drivers behind increased automation, as well as the impediments and limits to it, and to consider where automation might be taking us and what might be the consequences of these possible outcomes.

(Website in development – papers & presentations to be uploaded soon!)