A Question of the Future

A Question of the Future

Author: Anita Beck – Questacon – National Science and Technology Centre, Australia

Questacon has 30 years of experience in communicating science through shows, workshops and exhibitions, so delivering another exhibition isn’t new, however Questacon’s current exhibition Born or Built?: Our Robotic Future (BOB) showcases a new approach to science communication via exhibitions. Open to the public in April 2019, BoB explores our relationship with technology, now and into the future, using questions as a basis to promote dialog and discussion.

Exhibitions on contemporary evolving technology can be challenging with content becoming out dated before the exhibition is opened. To mitigate this issue, Questacon took a calculated risk to develop a contemporary science exhibition which contained almost no informational content and focused on societies changing relationship with technology through provocations.

15 interactive exhibits ask visitors questions while 6 interactive kiosks provide hundreds of ethical and philosophical questions for visitors to explore. Answers are compiled and displayed on a digital wall. Another exhibit provides visitors with an opportunity to ask questions which are then answered by subsequent visitors.

The approach has proven successful with visitors contributing nearly 500,000 answers to questions as well as posing over 6000 of their own. The data collected from the 500,000 answers are available to Universities, Industry and Government and is proving an invaluable insight into public opinion on technology in our lives, even being considered in policy development. Undergraduate and masters classes have visited the exhibition to discuss public opinions and concerns around A.I. and the ethics of technology. Initial evaluation indicates success with visitors dwelling in the exhibition 40% longer than in equivalent sized exhibitions. Observational data suggests this is due to prolonged conversations and debate.

This exhibition could prove a useful model for contemporary science exhibitions in the future. Not only solving information overload, but acting as a useful source of information for the wider community.

The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.

Presentation type: Insight talk
Theme: Technology