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A diverse group of protestors, mainly women closest to us, hold up banners and a pride flag. One in the foreground is shouting into a loudspeaker.
Web Science Institute

Democratic futures

We examine developments in artificial intelligence, online interactions, and data sharing that affect how public spaces are used for work, play and learning. We consider ways to ensure they remain free and equal.

We also aim to help ensure that these advances maintain or improve rather than threaten democracy. 

Our research focuses on: 

  • social media and other communication technologies like chatbots that can improve voter engagement and understandings of politics, but also spread fake news, polarise society, and enable excessive surveillance 
  • the increased power of large international technology companies, which runs up against a perceived loss of national sovereignty 
  • the web’s effect on inequalities and democratic disengagement, which are often predicted by gender, race, age, sexuality and other intersecting identities and characteristics 
  • automation and the extension of the workplace into the private sphere, which provides some benefits but may threaten democratic rights won by collective bargaining 

Contact us

If you’re a researcher, policymaker or industry representative and you have a project proposal or other need related to this theme, please contact theme lead Matthew Ryan. 

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