Research project

Democracy and AI: Fostering Knowledge Exchange for Social Change

Project overview

KEE Funded Project

There is a huge interest amongst democracy practitioners (who deliver democratic services for government and implement novel democratic processes), those working around AI in business and third sector, and academics, to collaborate, for the realisation of democratic and broader social change. Collaboration promises creativity and innovation in meeting the democratic challenges we face. Each groups bring their own skills and experience to the collaboration.

Despite strong collaborative motivations, often, practitioners and academics do not know how to get started, what successful knowledge exchange looks like, or how best to sustain relationships.

Over the last year the UK Democracy Network has developed to include organisations, practitioners and academics to meet this opportunity and challenge, which has been catalysed through the development of a ‘Guide for Collaboration for Social and Democratic Change’, developed in collaboration with University of Southampton scholars, and subsequent launch.

The Network has also developed a large community of 70 AI practitioners, thought-leaders and researchers, convening regularly across a range of topics, including governing and regulating AI, integrating AI into citizens’ assemblies and participatory processes, and how AI can empower democracy. The network has seen strong demand at a recent workshops that aim to bring AI researchers and developers together with democracy practitioners.

The University of Southampton seeks to partner with the Democracy Network to ensure that research, thinking and those working on AI in the academic space can better connect and share their learning with those democracy and AI practitioners. This will provide immediate and priority access to practitioners for UoS academics who are developing novel applications through research but also place the WSI at the forefront of facilitating engagement with novel AI for social good in the democracy domain. Crucially exchange with implementers will provide critical feedback necessary to ensure ethical socio-technical development of novel AI.


Lead researcher

Dr Matt Ryan

Associate Professor

Research interests

  • Democracy
  • Social Research Methods
  • Web Science
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Other researchers

Dr Rafael Mestre PhD, MSc, BSc

New Frontiers Fellow

Research interests

  • Responsible Research and Innovation of emergent technologies
  • Multimodal machine learning and Natural Language Processing
  • Computational social science
Connect with Rafael

Collaborating research institutes, centres and groups

Research outputs