As part of my project while studying abroad to observe how science is presented to the public in other countries, I traveled to Stockholm two weekends ago. There, I visited Tekniska Museet or The Swedish National Museum of Science and Technology. Compared to the Dynamic Earth museum I previously travelled to, Tekniska Museet was focused on technological advancements like video games and artificial intelligence and robots. The museum was huge but my favorite part was the exhibition on robots. I was very intrigued by all the different robots that are being made today. I always thought of robots as ‘futuristic’ growing up and being able to see the various forms of robots and artificial intelligence displayed at this museum really portrayed how present the future is and the technological advancements currently taking place today.
I was surprised when I came across an exhibition on ‘digital humanities’. I was unsure what phrase meant or entailed. Digital humanities is a method used to conduct research in digitalized archives and collections of artefacts, as explained in the museum exhibition. This method uses computers to find new ways of learning about mankind, culture and technology. This would be very useful for sifting through old documents (making the process quicker) and digitizing them to help increase their life-span! The reason why I was drawn to this exhibition was because of a panel that highlighted women’s role in history. Anna Foka, who is a scientific leader in digital humanities at Uppsala University and an associate professor at Umea University, examined the importance of women in this collection and exhibition. She applied a gender perspective in her research to observe how women were portrayed in the traditional writing of history through digital technology, which allows identification of and inclusion of social categories such as gender and status in research. This is just one example of how science has become so interdisciplinary today and has spanned many different fields or areas!
Lastly, I was able to think about what the science of the future will look like. We now have artificial intelligence and robots to help us get along with our everyday life (or at least, the very wealthy have that choice). Nevertheless, we have computers, mobile smartphones, etc. With these innovations continuing to improve and advance themselves, getting to interact with the robots and the artificial intelligence was a little creepy. This was present in my interaction with Pepper, made by SoftBank Robotics in Japan in 2014. Pepper is a personal and emotional humanoid robot. Pepper understood my movements and speech so clearly that I wondered what else she was capable of doing. While I am in favor of all that technology has to offer us, there are also concerns about how ethical this is and whether technology can end up controlling our lives in detrimental ways.
My overall opinion of the museum was that it explored the best of both worlds of science: the nitty-gritty technical aspect of science and technology found in artificial intelligence and video gaming but also more practical applications of science such as in analyzing historical texts through digital humanities or the development of antibiotics and vaccinations. I also found that the museum was very interactive and while there was a section devoted to kids to engage with science, I would say much of the interactive parts of the museum were just as fun and engaging for adults (and maybe even geared more towards adults). From visiting Tekniska Museet, I was able to learn more about key scientific advancements in Sweden and beyond (that have helped societies globally). Specifically, I learned that in Sweden, the video-gaming industry experienced a growth of 800% between 2010 and 2014 in Sweden and this trend is continuing today, making Sweden one of the top producers of video games and are an important part of Sweden’s economy. I had not previously ever thought of this before and my time in Sweden helped me connect with the culture, learn more about the country and explore its technological advancements.