New episodes of, Is AI for me? Perspective from the humanities

Is AI for me? Perspectives from the humanities, is a mini-series that is part of the Jisc Research Talk podcasts.

There’s been an outburst of AI talk over the last year, but it’s not often that we hear about what it means to engage with AI in the context of the humanities.

Over six episodes, we are talking to researchers and information professionals who share their views, experiences and work to help us understand AI’s place in today’s humanities scholarship.

This mini-series provides an overview for non-specialists, on the context, opportunities and challenges relating to the adoption of AI within humanities scholarship, and discusses, among other things, research practice and multidisciplinary teams, working with complex humanities data sets, skills, the role of libraries and data providers, major AI projects, and offer a gaze into the future.


  • Research talk: The highs and lows of artificial intelligence (May 2023): Melissa Terras, Professor of Digital Cultural Heritage at the University of Edinburgh, joins Paola Marchionni, Jisc’s Head of Engagement Content and Discovery. Together they discuss the critical issues around the use of AI in humanities scholarship. They talk about the tradition of computational approaches to the humanities, the pitfalls of machine learning, disinformation, and ethics. They also look to the future at what support is needed and end with thoughts on what AI can do for the humanities and what the humanities can do for AI.
  • Research Talk: Is AI for me? Perspectives from the humanities – skills for artificial intelligence (June 2023): Professor James Baker, Director of digital humanities at the University of Southampton joins Paola Marchionni to discuss the need to demystify the digital, the latest and shiniest things, and instead ground it within the continuity of research practice. They talk about the importance of equipping humanities researchers with the right skills to engage with artificial intelligence and how to help students navigate this ever-changing landscape. They also examine the role of the open access publishing platform Programming Historian plays in supporting the development of computational skills.
  • Research talk: Is AI for me? Perspectives from the humanities – messy humanities data (July 2023) In part three of our miniseries exploring artificial intelligence in the context of the humanities, Paola Marchionni is joined by Professor Jane Winters to discuss the often complex and messy data historians increasingly deal with when working with digital collections. They talk about some of the more useful AI tools for analysing historical data sets and the growing importance of transparency, ethics and individual responsibility when making choices about data.
  • Research talk: Is AI for me? Perspectives from the humanities – enriching research with computational methods (September 2023) Continuing with part 4 of our miniseries, in this episode, Professor Leif Isaksen, of the University of Exeter, and Peter Findlay discuss the impact of digital approaches on historical map research, the emergence of new tools for large multidimensional map datasets and the development of map research at scale. They consider the impact of AI technologies, such as neural networks, and how they affect notions of truth and the role of humans in the research process and the positive application of AI to learning, teaching and research.
  • Research talk: Is AI for me? Perspectives from the humanities: librarians, researchers and collections in the age of artificial intelligence (October 2023) In the penultimate episode of our miniseries Huw Jones, of the University of Cambridge, and Peter discuss the different ways to provide digital collections from common web delivery to AI-ready data, and they explore how AI might impact collection research and what it might mean for librarians to be confronted by an entire collection generated by AI. Together, they consider how digital methods allow librarians to learn new things about their collections and the value of seeing what is revealed through processes and techniques for engaging with collections.
  • Research Talk: Is AI for Me? Perspectives from the humanities; humans and machines (November 2023) In the final episode of our miniseries Ruth Ahnert, of Queen Mary, University of London, and Peter explore machines aiding critical thinking and how source evaluation of data can help us understand the outcomes of AI processes. Ruth ran ‘Living with Machines’, a five-year research project conducted by the Alan Turing Institute. The findings show that humanist approaches are influencing how scientists tackle complex problems. Ruth talks about large-scale data and the shift towards its use in the humanities. They close this final episode, touching on the transferable skills for the workplace that humanities students develop by mastering digital methods and a critical grasp of cutting-edge technologies.

If you are interested in our work to support research teaching and learning, you can find the miniseries alongside lots of other interesting topics on the Jisc podcast home page.

By Peter Findlay

Subject Matter Expert, Digital Scholarship, Content and Discovery, Jisc

Working with Jisc's Higher Education members to improve access to to their special collections in the age of data-centric arts, humanities and social science research.

I am a site admin for this website.

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