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Institute for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence

Humanities, Heritage and Creative Industries

Humanities, Heritage and Creative Industries Theme Lead Prof Leif Isaksen

he University of Exeter is engaged in a diverse range of activity relating to the intersection between Data Science and AI, the Humanities, Heritage and the Creative Industries: 

Hot Source! Targeted Digital Skills Development from Artefact to Analytics 

Hot Source! is an AHRC-funded project to establish the University of Exeter as a centre for Digital Skills Training as part of its iDAH programme (infrastructure for Digital Arts & Humanities). In its initial year it will pilot a range of courses on methods for digitising and analysing humanities source materials, including 2D and 3D capture of physical objects, extraction of printed and handwritten texts from objects; application based text analysis; and programmatic text and analysis with Python (Prof Leif Isaksen, Dr Charlotte Tupman, Dr Helen Birkett, Dr Richard Ward, Prof Travis Coan). 


The AHRC-funded Science, Heritage and Archaeology Digital 3D Lab (SHArD 3D), based within Archaeology & History, and led by , will help researchers to create detailed digital records that can be analysed to develop new understandings of biological and cultural change. The laboratory will work with museum curators, including Exeter’s Royal Albert Memorial Museum, to upgrade records from 2D photographs to 3D models, as well as provide an important national resource for forensic scientists and pathologists (Prof Naomi Sykes & Dr Carly Ameen). 

IDSAI-Turing Research Awards 

IDSAI has supported several data science and AI-related humanities research projects.  

Alan Turing Institute 

University staff are regularly engaged with the Alan Turing Institute 

  • Prof Jon Lawrence is Co-I of the Living with Machines project, which makes use of both humanities and computer science methodologies to explore the impact of technological change on Victorian society
  • Exeter staff (Prof Leif Isaksen, Dr Charlotte Tupman) are regularly involved in the Humanities & Data Science Interest Group 
  • Prof. Leif Isaksen is a current Turing Fellow.

Other Activity 

Dr William Short’s Senseful AI project has won the inaugural Blavatnik Prize for Innovation. The project uses semantic text analysis to search texts and corpora based on natural language concepts and the relationships between them. 

The NERC-funded Mapping Historic Habitats project (Dr Jonathan Mosedale), Prof. Leif Isaksen, Prof. Ioana Oltean) has conducted exploratory work on the use of machine vision to detect change over time in natural habitats, based on historic mapping and remote sensing data. A new PhD position, jointly funded and supervised by the National Trust and Exeter’s Environmental Intelligence CDT will take this work further. 

Prof Leif Isaksen took part in a Jisc Task & Finish Group on Machine Learning, Data and the Humanities and has subsequently been interviewed for an episode of its Is AI for me? series of podcasts. 

Prof Gabriella Giannachi is the Director of the Centre for Intermedia and Creative Technologies at the University of Exeter. She has recently published two articles exploring the impact of AI in this area:  

Giannachi, G. (2023) ‘Framing Humans for AI’, in ‘Unframing/reframing in the Contemporary Visual, Performing, and Media Arts’, Jolma, special issue edited by Susanne Franco, Cristina Baldacci and Piero Conte, forthcoming. 

  • Giannachi, G. (2022)Training Humans into AI | Revisiting Lynn Hershman Leeson’s Agent Ruby (2002); Mario Klingemann’s Circuit Training (2019); Kate Crawford and Trevor Paglen’s Training Humans (2020); and Luca Viganò’s The First (2021)’, AI Innovations 22, Berlin. 

The Department of Communications, Drama and Film in HASS is developing various strands of research into AI and data science in the field of Communication Studies 

Dr Alex Taylor works at the intersection between critical data studies and infrastructure studies. His research focuses on data preservation/security from media-archaeological and new materialist perspective. He also leads the digital sustainability project , which investigates the environmental impact of key education technology providers through a focus on their infrastructure. Recent publications include:  

  • (2021). ‘Future‐proof: Bunkered Data Centres and the Selling of Ultra‐secure Cloud Storage’. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 27(S1), 76-94 
  • (2023) ‘Cloud Backup and Restore: the Infrastructure of Digital Failure’. In  (Ed) Routledge International Handbook of Failure, 223-236 

Dr Aditya Deshbandhu Aditya works in the intersections of AI and Creative Industries through practices related to gaming and streaming cultures. His work aims to explore how both generational and non-generational AI contribute to the experiences of play, economies of content creation, and the emergence of new practices in creation and consumption. Recent Publications include: 

  • (2020). Gaming Culture (s) in India: Digital Play in Everyday Life. London and New York: Routledge. 
  • with, Roy, D., & Kushal, S. (2022). ‘Hybrid habitats: Remediating leisure, space and youth through Pokémon Go in India’, Journal of Leisure Research, 53:4, 532-555, DOI: 10.1080/00222216.2022.2073491. 
  •  (2020). Towards A Monopoly. Examining FIFA’s dominance in Simulated Football. gamevironments 12, 49-76. Available at  

Dr Zizheng Yu is a lecturer in Promotional Media.  His research explores consumer behaviour, activism and information and communications technology with a particular focus on AI/algorithmic resistance. Recent publications include: 

  • with Treré E, Bonini T (2022). ‘The emergence of algorithmic solidarity: unveiling mutual aid practices and resistance among Chinese delivery workers’. Media International Australia, 183(1), 107-123 

 Related Centres of Excellence in Exeter

The Digital Humanities Lab is a state of the art facility offering unique spaces, equipment and training for staff and students. A specialist team conducts and supports innovative Digital Humanities research, offers training and teaching, and undertakes the digital preservation and display of historic material and artefacts using advanced technologies. 

Visit the Digital Humanities Lab

Building on the University's core disciplines of Sociology, Criminology, Politics, and International Relations, Exeter Q-Step brings together a range of activities related to training as well as curriculum development in quantitative methods. The Centre has recruited academics for the delivery of undergraduate courses focused on endowing students with quantitative literacy and applied data analysis skills, so it offers challenging, exciting and career-enhancing programmes.

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Based at the University of Exeter in the UK, Egenis is committed to providing research of the highest international standard into the nature, historical precedents, and philosophical, social and scientific implications of developments in contemporary biosciences. Also covering the cognitive, biomedical and agricultural sciences, we are interested all of the life sciences' socio-political, ethical, as well as epistemic repercussions. We have pioneered new approaches to the understanding of genomics, stem cell science, symbiosis, model organisms, data-intensive research, systems and synthetic biology, heredity, and microbiology.

We have a strongly interdisciplinary culture, encompassing a range of perspectives from social science, biology, and philosophy. The Egenis membership is engaged in developing and running a wide range of highly innovative, interdisciplinary research projects in cooperation with a range of external partners. This research is characterised by its variety of output modes, impact vectors, and policy potential.

The Data Studies and Knowledge Processing research theme led by Sabina Leonelli is concerned with the functioning and implications of research processes within and beyond the life sciences, both in contemporary practices and in history, and across a wide range of locations. Of particular interest are the ways data, models, hardware, and software are used and circulated, the division of labour and credit systems in science, the nature and practice of co-production and citizen science, the changing role and modes of publishing, and the ways in which knowledge processing and related environments are managed, evaluated, and compared across geographical and disciplinary locations.