Anthropology and Tech

Sarah Parcak’s TED Talk on Space Archaeology

Snapshot

Do you ever wonder why some people behave a certain way, or where we come from and which way we’re headed? Are you fascinated with human societies and cultures around the world? Then you have an anthropological mindset – rich with curiosity and wonder.

Today, the field of anthropology is widely influenced by technology and the tools of the digital world – from social media to space tech – that are paving new career paths and creating opportunities in just about any industry you can imagine.

Cool Anthropology Tech

Social media and digital tools are making it possible for pretty much anyone to contribute their share of anthropological data from all around the world. With online film archives like MyStreet, people can post clips to the geo-tagged virtual map to share stories of places they’ve visited with those who are eager to learn about something unknown.

Archaeology, a subfield of anthropology, is seeing huge advancements in technologies available for uncovering ancient secrets of our world. Known as space archaeology, the practice involves use of space tech like satellite imagery to see beyond the visible parts of land while being thousands of miles away.

Robotics is also making an impact on the field - autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) are used for surveying underwater environments to find submerged wrecks, rocks and other hazardous obstructions without any human intervention. Once the survey is completed, the robot simply returns to the pre-programmed location where data can be collected and processed by specialists.

Anthropology involves analyzing mountains of data, so it shouldn’t be surprising that data analytics software is used in the field to understand human culture. For example, tech giants like Intel or Nokia employ anthropologists to provide insights into consumer behaviours and help them come up with products and services that will be the next big thing.

Careers

Anthropology graduates have the necessary skills to pursue a career in a number of fields like healthcare, education, non-profit, marketing, tech or even the government. Most positions won’t necessarily list ‘anthropologist’ in the title, making your career options that much richer.

Examples of careers in anthropology and tech:

  • Digital ethnographers use their incredible observation powers to help companies get ideas for new products and services by generating cultural insights on what people care about. They do that by gathering and analyzing online data through software that some even write themselves!
  • Space archaeologists use satellite imagery to search for clues to the lost sites of past civilizations to find out where exactly to start their next excavation project.
  • CAD Designers use computer aided design (CAD) software to generate two and three-dimensional computer representations of archaeological data such as artefacts or architectural items like walls or columns.
  • Robotics Engineers build technologies like AUVs and program them for various uses, such as by the navy.

Educational Paths

Since anthropology and tech is an emerging discipline, there is no clear-cut path to most careers in the field. Sometimes you may have to combine a major in anthropology with tech studies like computer science or data analytics to get the best of both worlds. Here are some areas to consider:

randomness