What is ethnography? I’m glad you asked, as it is the subject of today’s discussion. Simply put, ethnography is an anthropological and sociological research method that is both qualitative and quantitative in nature, whereby detailed observations of humans are carried out in certain social systems and conditions in order to understand their needs. According to Princeton University, Ethnography is a method that is “central to knowing the world from the standpoint of its social relations… involves hands-on, on-the-scene learning — and it is relevant wherever people are relevant.” By this logic, it is clear that ethnography serves as an important input to a people-oriented society, and therefore, serves as a significant foundation of the future human-centric digital framework. Ethnography seeks to understand the present, real-time needs of humans by monitoring social dynamics––which has powerful implications for AI-powered solutions and personalized AI implementations. Moreover, as Gen Z champions the diversity-first, personalization, and human-centric approaches, this generation will naturally serve as a pioneer of ethnography in the creation of what will be a true for-the-people, digital society.
Ethnography is truly the missing link to the global human-centric AI value chain that the future digital societal framework has been looking for. Moreover, the reason why ethnography has not been widely explored to fuel AI human-centric implementations is because there isn’t big enough of a base that can popularize the method. However, all of this will change with Gen Z. Our generation is determined to set into a motion a digital society that serves the purpose of accelerating human advancement and augmenting the daily lifestyle. In order for the human to be at the center at all times, Gen Z will champion the ethnographic approach to digital transformation. This is because the ethnographic approach is indeed people-oriented and diversity-ingratiated at its roots, which are two items that Gen Z greatly values.
Armed with ethnography, Gen Z stepping into the workforce means that personalized AI and digital transformation will rapidly develop. This is thanks to a term that I have coined: Ethnographic AI (eAI). eAI will mean real-time digital solutions to human problems across industries, from agriculture to healthcare to infrastructure, and more. If technology and biology are ever going to experience a beneficial symbiosis, the future needs to place an emphasis on the human––and that’s exactly what eAI promises.
To conclude, ethnography is a true catalyst of the human-centric society that we have all been waiting for, and Gen Z’s advocacy of ethnography–with diversity and personalization serving as precursors–will truly take the digital society to a whole new frontier. This is what we need, and this is what ethnographic AI will achieve.