Tech + Narrative Lab

Examining applications and implications of emerging technology

Just as technology advancements continue to increase in size and scope, so do their impact on society. But many policymaking processes and analytic approaches remain rooted in outmoded 20th century models and capabilities.

TNL embodies a philosophy of curiosity and experimentation within the broad context of policy analysis and action.

In Pardee RAND's Tech + Narrative Lab (TNL), policy analysts and Ph.D. students in the Technology Applications and Implications (Tech) stream can apply new and emerging technologies to study policy problems and create novel policy solutions, as well as understand the policy implications of new and emerging technologies.

The lab currently focuses on four categories of technology:

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)
  • Augmented, Virtual, and Mixed Realities,
  • Digital Gaming, and
  • the Internet of Things (IoT)

But the TNL is more than just a place. It embodies a philosophy of curiosity and experimentation within the broad context of policy analysis and action. The TNL serves as a hub for students and researchers interested in technology issues, as well as a connective tissue between the graduate school, RAND research, and external collaborators, including academia, government, and the private sector.

The TNL is all about hands-on work, collaboration, and exploration. It employs the best practices of technology start-ups — rapid prototyping, developing a "minimum viable product," and iterating. This combines with an ethos of curiosity, exploration, play, learning and growing from failure, and doing rather than just thinking.

Why Narrative?

However, the lab is not only about widgets and algorithms, but also about story—how to convey process and results to non-technical audiences.

What does narrative have to do with technology? Plenty. Over the last few decades, we have seen a migration from hardcopy to digital infrastructure. Data and access to it has become ubiquitous. We have also seen the emergence of three new mediums for communication and collaboration — the internet, mobile devices, and immersive technology (VAMR). These tech capabilities will touch every aspect of life, but they also serve as platforms for interaction, education, and influence.

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Sujeong Park explains how she created her TwitterBot

Photo by Diane Baldwin/RAND

We live in a complex world. Analysis of its policy challenges is a complicated undertaking. And conveying rigorous, data-driven research results can be quite challenging. The once–gold standard of dense, lengthy written reports has eroded over time, so new ways of understanding problems and explaining solutions need to be explored, prototyped, and executed. The TNL embraces the challenge of turning policy analysts into effective storytellers, helping to ensure that research results do not fall on deaf ears.

Why Pardee RAND?

Pardee RAND is uniquely positioned to lead explorations at the intersections of policy and technology. The rich history of RAND research, along with its broad expertise in analytic approaches, provides a foundation of rigor for policy analysis. Strategic partnerships with technologists and storytellers provide new ways to frame questions, test approaches, and share results.

The TNL focuses on all aspects of technology. From creating tools for data capture and analysis to understanding how and why emerging capabilities will impact society, the TNL is a space for asking questions both big and small, and prototyping solutions.