AI in the Street: report from the London Observatory

Starting with a simple question “what does responsible AI look like from the street?” AI-in-the-street teams, one of them hosted at the Department of Digital Humanities, are undertaking creative participatory research in 5 cities the UK and Australia – London, Edinburgh, Coventry, Cambridge and Logan. These research-based interventions funded by AHRC’s  BRAID programme (Bridging Divides in Responsible AI) take the form of diagramming workshops, sensing walks and street-based activities, and will inform the scoping of a prototype for a “street-level observatory” for everyday AI: a digital showcase and protocol for rendering the presence, role and effects of AI-based technologies visible and/or tangible for everyday publics in the street.

This image illustrates AI in the street with a women looking out on a wild imaginative map.

Image: Anne Fehres and Luke Conroy & AI4Media / Better Images of AI Licenced by CC-BY 4.0

The research of the London Observatory was conducted in three city locations – Science Gallery (London Bridge),  Martello Street Studios (London Fields) and Hermitage Community Moorings (Wapping) hosted by Ambient Information Systems with Yasmine Boudiaf. In our primarily discursive workshops of up to 3hrs length we had in total 18 participants, and the approach, which evolved over the three sessions, combined role-playing, experience-sharing, exploring counterfactuals and terminology through algorithmically-guided conversation, envisioning exercises, and collaborative drawing. Audio/video recordings, texts and images from the sessions form the basis of a manifestation as artwork (in progress).

The workshops were grounded in three key considerations  

• identities in the street, noting in particular that we may inhabit multiple and fluid identities (as parent accompanying child, as cyclist) 

• needs and desires that the street actually or potentially fulfils, or fails to; the extent to which technologies including AI meet these needs and desires, either as currently deployed or as imagined, and unintended effects (which may have uneven impact)  

• alternative, non-technological solutions to these needs and desires. 

While participants had limited awareness of the extent of AI deployment in the street, they were tech-literate and understood the deeper societal and legal implications of AI systems. Most participants noted the lack of users’ voices in design and implementation processes, and several pointed to the energetic and environmental costs of AI. One participant had expert-level domain knowledge, but even they described finding AI systems as opaque in multiple ways, from problem specification and design, to terms of engagement and access, to the origin, processing and fate of data.

There was widespread agreement that, despite their potential agility and precision, AI technologies are entangled in an ossified economic model that centralises power away from citizens and relegates environmental costs as externalities. Devolution of human agency to machine systems was seen as of mixed utility. Other concerns raised included poor problem specification leading to ‘solutionism’ and function creep, and the general vulnerability of complex technological systems. 

The findings of the London Observatory will be combined with those of Edinburgh, Coventry, Cambridge and Logan (Australia), and presented at the Science Gallery on Thursday, 12th September 2024 at 6.30pm.

Text by AI in the Street, Mukul Patel and Mercedes Bunz.

AI in the street is funded under the AHRC BRAID programme (Bridging Divides in Responsible AI). BRAID is a 3-year national research programme funded by the UKRI Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), led by the University of Edinburgh in partnership with the Ada Lovelace Institute and the BBC. 

Data Driven Classics: Exploring the Power of Shared Datasets

Workshop organised by Andrea Farina (Department of Digital Humanities) and George Oliver (Department of Classics).

The Department of Digital Humanities at King’s College London is excited to announce a unique opportunity for scholars interested in the intersection of Classics and digital methodologies. We invite you to participate in our upcoming event entitled Data Driven Classics: Exploring the Power of Shared Datasets on 5th July 2024.

Date: 5th July 2024

Time: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Venue: King’s College London, Embankment Room MB-1.1.4 (Macadam Building, Strand Campus)

About the Workshop:

The study of the ancient world increasingly relies on curated datasets, emphasising the importance of data sharing and reproducibility for open research in today’s technologically interconnected world. In this context, the workshop aims to achieve two main objectives:

  1. Raise awareness on the significance of datasets, data papers, and data-sharing for Classics.
  2. Guide classicists in identifying, utilising, and sharing datasets within the scientific community.

The workshop will consist of a one-day programme featuring engaging presentations, hands-on sessions, and roundtable discussions led by experts in the field. In the morning session, our four invited speakers will explore the importance of data-sharing and present case studies of published datasets in Classics, covering linguistic and historical-geographical perspectives. This will be followed by a general discussion on data use and sharing.

Dr Mandy Wigdorowitz (University of Cambridge), Humanities has a place in the open research and data sharing ecosystem.

Paola Marongiu (University of Neuchâtel), Collecting, creating, sharing and reusing data in Classics: an overview of the best practices.

Mathilde Bru (University College London), Building and publishing a dataset as a Classicist.

Prof Claire Holleran (University of Exeter), Working with epigraphic datasets: mapping migration in Roman Hispania.

In the early afternoon, participants will engage in hands-on activities, working in groups to describe datasets and identify their potential for reuse. They are encouraged to bring their own datasets, if available, to receive feedback from both the workshop facilitators and fellow participants. Feedback will focus not only on the quality of the data itself but also on the best practices for sharing it (e.g., format, open repository, deposition process). For those who do not have their own datasets, we will provide sample datasets to familiarise themselves with various repository types and data formats. Participants will also have the opportunity to learn about different platforms for data sharing and essential elements such as creating a README file and understanding its purpose. Discussions will also cover vital aspects such as licensing options and the significance of obtaining a DOI for datasets.

Who can attend:

This workshop is open to postgraduate students, researchers, and staff members interested in Classics, regardless of their level of expertise in digital methodologies. We especially encourage participation from those with an interest in linguistics, archaeology, history, and related fields. Participants are sought within and outside King’s College London. Preference will be given to applicants whose cover letters demonstrate that their research projects or professional pursuits benefit from the event. We also aim to maintain a balanced representation across disciplinary backgrounds.

Registration and logistics:

Seats for this workshop are limited. To apply for participation, please email Andrea Farina and George Oliver at andrea.farina[at] and george.oliver[at] attaching a cover letter no longer than one page in .pdf format and writing “Data Driven Classics Registration” as the subject of your email. In your cover letter, please state your name, affiliation, position (student, PhD student, Lecturer etc.), email address, and your field in Classics (e.g., linguistics, history, etc.), and explain why you would like to attend the workshop and how it can benefit your research.

There is no registration fee for this event. However, participants are responsible for covering their travel expenses through their own institutions. The workshop will accommodate a maximum of 25 participants to ensure adequate assistance during the hands-on session.

Important dates:

Deadline to submit expression of interest with cover letter: 22nd May 2024.
Notification of acceptance: 31st May 2024.
Event: 5th July 2024.

Contact Information:

For any inquiries or further information, please contact Andrea Farina at andrea.farina[at] or George Oliver at george.oliver[at]

Art x Public AI report launched

A new report investigating the potential of Public AI and its importance for artists and cultural institutions is now available for free to download and to read online

The AI stack

Studying Public AI, the report lays out the various layers of the AI stack from, data to the AI models and other software components to the natural resources that AI systems need to function.

It has been written by the Serpentine’s Arts Technologies team using research by the Creative AI Lab, a collaboration between the Serpentine and the Department of Digital Humanities, KCL and is part of their annual Future Art Ecosystems publication series. The report is structured around the following research questions: 

  • What is Public AI?
  • What technologies constitute the AI stack? 
  • How can cultural organisations exert agency within and around AI systems?
  • What are the different strategies for artists to experiment and intervene in AI systems?

Instead of approaching AI as a singular, monolithic technology driven by a small number of technology companies, the report considers how present-day AI capabilities, rooted in data, and model and compute components, come into being by means of this technical stack that integrates natural resources, systems, and technologies to produce the necessary hardware and software. By viewing the technology through this composite lens, pathways for intervention or the building of alternatives becomes more imaginable. 

The report explores a number of these divergent pathways for specific layers of the AI stack, structured around three chapters: Organisation, Artist, and Ecosystem. In chapter 1, public institutions are assessed as keepers and even stewards of important datasets. The transformation of their operational logic by the introduction of AI infrastructure if also considered.

Process for training pre-training and fine-tuned models

The changing role of the artist becomes central in chapter 2, alongside how artists can make impactful interventions at specific layers of the AI stack. Following the suggestion from artists Holly Herndon and Mat Dryhurst that ‘all media is now training data’, the data used to train large AI models is termed ‘shadow labour’ because of the work that creating such data originally involved. Here, the role and limits of ‘intellectual property’ rights are considered. 

But artists are more empowered in the AI context than this might initially suggest. A typology is proposed that explores the different ways that artists work with tools: as ‘users’ of closed-off ‘black boxed’ tool such as text-to-image generators like DALL-E; as ‘auditors’ who might be interested in tinkering with open source tools, and finally ‘competitors’ who build alternatives for the open source community, or to bring to market. Finally, in chapter 3, a set of recommendations for co-ordinated action across the cultural sector is laid out.

Though not a definitive treatment of the intersection between AI, the public interest, and the cultural sector, the report Art x Public AI makes the case for the ecosystem of ‘art and advanced technologies’ as a laboratory for new approaches to building and intervening across the layers of the AI stack. 

The purpose of the report is to provide analyses, concepts and strategies for cultural organisations, artists and the broader art and advanced technologies ecosystem responding to the technosocial transformations of AI systems on culture. Based on the belief that culture is a public good, the report shows that public and non-public entities are deeply entangled in every layer of the AI stack and presents recommendations for reclaiming the public in AI and steering its development for the public good.

Launch of the Public AI report – photo by by Sam Nightingale

Watch a presentation and Q&A from Reference Point, London with the briefing’s lead researchers and authors: Eva Jäger, Victoria Ivanova, and Alasdair Milne (KCL PhD student). You can also follow the work of Future Art Ecosystems by subscribing to their newsletter, here

The Creative AI Lab & Serpentine Arts Technologies

Seminar: How does language change and variation affect our ML models? • 7 May 2024

Event organised by the Computational Humanities research group.

To register to the seminar, please fill in this form by 2 April 2024.

7 May 2024 – 3pm BST

In person – King’s College London

Remote – Via Microsoft Teams

Haim Dubossarsky (School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science, Queen Mary University of London), How does language change and variation affect our ML models?


Applied Machine Learning techniques, especially in the textual domain, have introduced us to the craft of transfer learning. Simply put, we can take an off-the-shelf model, fine-tune it on a curated training set specific to the task at hand, and expect performance improvements. This approach became even more promising with the emergence of multilingual models such as XLM-R or mBERT, which allow fine-tuning on a task in language X and expect performance gains on the same task in language Y, at least in theory. However, languages exhibit diverse behaviours in different contexts, and fine-tuning a model for a specific task may degrade its performance in slightly different linguistic contexts that were not initially considered.

Furthermore, cross-lingual transfer learning relies heavily on assumptions about underlying linguistic factors shared between languages, many of which have not been thoroughly tested. In this talk, Dr Haim Dubossarsky will focus on two recent works that highlight the limitations of the common approach in modern ML application. The first demonstrates how linguistic input perturbations, stemming from language changes due to reclaimed language, significantly impede the performance of hate speech detection models. In the second work, Dr Haim Dubossarsky will illustrate how multilingual language models fail to transfer from English to Hindi in a polysemy detection task, despite the promise of multilingual support. He will then propose potential solutions to these challenges.


Dr Haim Dubossarsky is a Lecturer in the School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science at Queen Mary University of London, an Affiliated Lecturer in the Language Technology Lab at the University of Cambridge, and a recently appointed Turing Fellow. His research focuses on Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Artificial Intelligence (AI), with a particular emphasis on the intersection of linguistics, cognition, and neuroscience.

His work has made significant contributions to the emerging field of computational semantic change and has delved into investigating the societal impact and biases of modern NLP tools. Haim employs advanced mathematical and computational methods across disciplines, enriching research and pushing the boundaries of knowledge in NLP and related fields. His interdisciplinary approach often uncovers novel research questions that were previously inaccessible through more traditional methods.

Seminar: Examining temporality in historical photographs • 9 April 2024

Event organised by the Computational Humanities research group.

To register to the seminar, please fill in this form by 2 April 2024.

9 April 2024 – 3pm BST

Remote – Via Microsoft Teams

Melvin Wevers (University of Amsterdam, Examining temporality in historical photographs


In this talk, Dr Melvin Wevers explores the capacity of computer vision models to discern temporal information in visual content, focusing specifically on historical photographs. He investigates the dating of images using OpenCLIP, an open-source implementation of CLIP, a multi-modal language and vision model. The experiment consists of three steps: zero-shot classification, fine-tuning, and analysis of visual content. Dr Melvin Wevers is currently expanding this study with a deeper examination of the role that people and their fashion play in conveying temporal information. During the talk, he will showcase the most recent results and run through the codebase used for this study.


Dr Melvin Wevers is an Assistant Professor in Digital History at the University of Amsterdam. His research focuses on the application of computational methods to model historical processes. He does this by combining insights from the philosophy of history with the affordances of modelling techniques, such as time series analysis, Bayesian statistics, deep/machine learning, and information theory. Dr Melvin Wevers is also one of the founding members of the Computational Humanities Research Conference.

Conference organised by our PGRs – Interdisciplinary Perspectives: Bridging Sociological Studies in the Digital Age • 11 June 2024

This conference is organised by PhD students at the Department of Digital Humanities.

11 June 2024 – King’s College London, Strand Campus (Bush House Lecture Theatre 1)

Interdisciplinary Perspectives: Bridging Sociological Studies in the Digital age

The Department of Digital Humanities at King’s College London is pleased to host the international conference Interdisciplinary Perspectives: Bridging Sociological Studies in the Digital Age on 11 June 2024. The conference will be in-person only and will take place in London, at King’s College London Strand Campus (WC2R 2LS), where the Department of Digital Humanities is based. 

The event aims to foster discussions and collaborations across various disciplines, specifically including Natural Language Processing (NLP), Social Sciences, and Social Media and Digital Methods in broader research in Digital Humanities.

In an era defined by unprecedented connectivity and vast digital datasets, the intersection of NLP, Social Sciences, and Social Media alongside Digital Methods sparks a profound dialogue, reshaping our understanding of human behavior and societal dynamics within vast digital ecosystems. NLP emerges as a transformative force, equipping computers with the ability to comprehend, interpret, and generate human language, bridging the gap between digital data and human insights. This integration with Social Sciences fosters a multidisciplinary framework, enabling nuanced analyses of cultural phenomena, societal trends, and individual behaviors within digital realms. Concurrently, Social Media platforms emerge as dynamic arenas, offering real-time glimpses into human interactions, preferences, and sentiments, thus serving as invaluable sources for both NLP-driven research and social science inquiry. Through this interconnected dialogue, researchers navigate the complexities of the digital landscape, uncovering layers of meaning and driving innovation at the nexus of technology, social sciences, and digital methods.

The conference will feature Andrea Nini (Manchester University) and Chiara Amini (UCL) as keynote speakers. They will offer insights into the latest advancements, challenges, and future directions within their respective fields, enriching the interdisciplinary dialogue and inspiring attendees to explore innovative avenues at the intersection of sociological studies and the digital age.

For this conference, we invite submissions of abstracts in English focusing on the intersection of sociological studies and the digital age. 

Abstracts should be tailored for presentations lasting 20 minutes, with an additional 10 minutes allotted for questions. We particularly welcome submissions in the following areas or any intersection between them:

  1. NLP
  2. Social Sciences 
  3. Social Media and Digital Methods

We encourage submissions from researchers, scholars, practitioners, and postgraduate researchers who are exploring innovative approaches, methodologies, and findings within these domains. 

Submission Guidelines:

  • Abstracts should not exceed 300 words in length.
  • Abstracts should include the name of the author(s) and their affiliation(s).
  • Abstracts should clearly outline the research objectives, methodology, and, possibly, anticipated contributions to the field.
  • Abstracts must be submitted via email to andrea.farina[at] by 20 April 2024.Please write “ABSTRACT Interdisciplinary Perspectives Conference” as the object of your email.
  • Please indicate the preferred topic area for your presentation (NLP, Social Sciences, Social Media and Digital Methods).
  • Notification of acceptance: 10 May 2024.

For inquiries and further information, please contact Andrea Farina at andrea.farina[at]

The organisers:

Andrea Farina, Rendan Liu, Chiara Mignani, Zhi Ye

Conference Contact: andrea.farina[at]

Seminar: Diversity and Inclusion in the Sharing Economy: An Airbnb Case Study • 27 March 2024

Event organised by the Computational Humanities research group.

To register to the seminar, please fill in this form by Friday 22 March 2024.

27 March 2024 – 5pm GMT

In person – King’s College London (Macadam Building MB-2.1)

Remote – Via Microsoft Teams

Giovanni Quattrone (Middlesex University London), Diversity and Inclusion in the Sharing Economy: An Airbnb Case Study


The sharing economy model is a contested concept: on one hand, its proponents have praised it to be enabler of fair marketplaces, with all participants receiving equal opportunities; on the other hand, its detractors have criticised it for actually exacerbating preexisting societal inequalities. In this paper, we propose a scalable quantitative method to measure participants’ diversity and inclusion in such marketplaces, with the aim to offer evidence to ground this debate. We apply the method to the case of the Airbnb hospitality service for the city of London, UK. Our findings reveal that diversity is high for gender, but not so for age and ethnicity. As for inclusion, we find strong signals of homophily both in terms of gender, age and ethnicity, thus suggesting that under-represented groups have significantly fewer opportunities to gain from this market model. Interestingly, the sentiment associated to same-group (homophilic) interactions is just as positive as that associated to heterophilic ones, even after controlling for Airbnb property’s type, price and location. This suggests that increased diversity and inclusion are desirable not only for moral but also for economic and market reasons.


Dr Giovanni Quattrone is a prominent researcher and expert in the fields of Social Data Science and Urban Science. With a strong background in data-driven analysis and interdisciplinary research, Giovanni has made significant contributions to advancing our understanding of complex social phenomena and urban dynamics.

Giovanni’s expertise lies in leveraging computational methods, such as machine learning and network analysis to gain insights into social interactions and human behaviour across both online and offline domains. Giovanni’s research also encompasses the analysis of urban data, driving the development of data-driven solutions to enhance urban planning, sustainability, and livability. To date, Giovanni has published more than 80 peer-reviewed publications, with over 1900 citations collectively (Source: Google Scholar).

Twelve new posts in the Department of Digital Humanities

The Department of Digital Humanities is recruiting for twelve full-time, permanent positions across a range of areas.

Please help us share with those who might be interested in applying. Full details and links can be found on this page.

Some background information about these posts:

The Department of Digital Humanities (DDH) is one of the largest and most prestigious DH Departments in the UK and internationally. DDH has expanded a great deal in the last fifteen years, and during this time “the digital”, both in and as related to the humanities, has changed beyond all recognition. As well as revolutionising the way in which we deal with data, computation and analysis in the humanities, we have seen the rise of the interactive World Wide Web, of social media, the digital economy, and key contemporary issues such as fake news and misinformation, and the progress of AI. Our philosophy is that none of these ways in which “the digital” relates to the “the human” can be researched or taught in isolation, and this has underpinned our expansion. We therefore encourage applications for these posts from across the DH broadly defined.

These new posts will consolidate our research and teaching in key areas of DH including computational humanities, global digital politics, digital economy and industries, and digital media and culture, as well as engaging with emergent areas, such as AI and creativity. Some of the posts will also develop and support our new online PGT programmes, including an MSc in Digital Economy and an MA in Digital Futures, both of which are expected to recruit globally, but with a particular focus on South-East Asia . These appointments will also enable us to expand and improve the activities that make the DH student experience at King’s unique, and help students to enhance their skills, such as our Writing and Coding Labs. These posts provide an opportunity for qualified individuals to play a major role in shaping our vision of a diverse and innovative Department of Digital Humanities.

Here are links to the positions:

Here are links to the social media posts:

Seminar: Exploring Changes in Sensory Descriptions Over Time: A Frame-Based Approach to the Study of Smelling and Tasting • 27 February 2024

Event organised by the Computational Humanities research group.

To register to the seminar, please fill in this form by Tuesday 20 February 2024.

27 February 2024 – 3pm GMT

In person – King’s College London

Remote – Via Microsoft Teams

Teresa Paccosi (University of Trento / Fondazione Bruno Kessler), Exploring Changes in Sensory Descriptions Over Time: A Frame-Based Approach to the Study of Smelling and Tasting


The world in which we live is mediated by our senses, so it is not surprising that every language has specialized words to describe our perceptual experience. Previous research has revealed a dominance of sight in the usage of sensory words and in the composition of the sensory lexicon in Western European languages. This often results in taste and smell being expressed with a more limited vocabulary in these languages. Existing works on olfactory and gustatory language focus on contemporary language and the specific words employed in these sensory vocabularies. This seminar aims to offer a quantitative exploration of the evolution of English olfactory and gustatory language over time, adopting a FrameNet-like approach for the analysis of sensory descriptions in textual data. The frame-based approach is designed to effectively capture sensory events, i.e., more complex structures involving different participants, rather than focusing solely on the occurrences of single terms in texts. This approach serves as the basis for a system for the automatic extraction of gustatory references from texts. During the seminar, a preliminary version of this system will be presented.


Teresa Paccosi is a PhD student in Cognitive Science at the University of Trento, holding a scholarship funded by the Digital Humanities group of Fondazione Bruno Kessler. The primary focus of her PhD project is the examination of sensory descriptions in textual data and how their linguistic encoding has evolved over time. Throughout her PhD, she actively collaborated within the H20 project ‘Odeuropa’. The goal of the project is to demonstrate that critically engaging with our sense of smell and exploring our scent heritage is an important and viable means of connecting and promoting Europe’s tangible and intangible cultural heritage.