Engaging the public at the ESRC Festival of Social Science

On Saturday 29 October AIDE project team members set up camp in the Pitt Rivers Museum to take part in Oxford’s contribution to the ESRC Festival of Social Science.

Despite being long time advocates of engagement and involvement, endeavouring to include public participation in our research design, and ensuring our outputs are accessible to a lay audience, we rarely have the opportunity to discuss our work with a broad public audience. The festival was a great forum for discussing our research with people of all ages and gave us all a boost from showing the level of public interest and support for the work we do.

3 activities were offered explaining to primary school aged children how Artificial Intelligence can assist healthcare by aiding diagnosis, capturing and storing data, or giving access to the right information at the right time. The activities prompted participants to consider how AI might change healthcare, what they want to be told about the use of AI in healthcare, when different stakeholders need to be involved, and how the values and needs of society influence the adoption of new technologies. They were designed to mimic case studies on AI presented and discussed during our citizen focus groups, providing an opportunity to explore the same questions with a younger audience, and to engage parents and carers in our work in a relaxed setting. Adults were invited to join the project mailing list to be informed of future opportunities to be involved in our research and to hear about its findings, and valuable connections were made with several unassuming experts from the local community. All in all, a day very well spent.

In preparation for this event we produced an information pack providing an overview of each activity that we are happy to share with others interested in engaging publics on the use of AI in healthcare.


The activities:

  • AI powered ‘spot-the-difference’ – use our ‘computer’ to help you to find them all
  • Design a Cake – when do developers need to involve different stakeholders?
  • Pass it On – exploring how different healthcare professionals use and record healthcare data, and how computers and AI can help make sure the right people get the right information at the right time.