British Library and Turing Institute will ‘revolutionise historical research’ with £9.2m project 9/1/2019

The British Library, Alan Turing Institute and researchers from a range of universities are embarking on a major five-year project applying AI and data science methods to gain new insights into historical material. ‘Living with Machines’ is funded by £9.2m from UKRI, led by AHRC and will explore the Industrial Revolution. The initial data set will be millions of pages from British Library newspaper collections as well as government census figures. Computational linguists and historians will be able to track social change through a vast array of records. Crucially, the new data science methods developed by the project should enable researchers to give a voice to the views of ordinary people who lived through the Industrial Revolution, rather than focusing on the perceptions of leaders and policy makers. As well as illuminating the past – for instance by tracking changing attitudes among Victorians to mechanisation – the project will also develop insights useful in steering society through the current digital revolution and its impact on the future of work. The British Library’s Chief Executive Roly Keating said “by opening up our unrivalled collections to this unique collaboration between historians and data scientists, we hope to not only aid researchers and communities in their understanding of our shared past, but to pave the way towards revolutionising the future of historical research.” British Library, Turing Institute