The Minderoo Centre for Technology and Democracy is an independent team of academic researchers at the University of Cambridge, radically rethinking the power relationships between digital technologies, society and our planet.

We believe that the uncontrolled accumulation of power by technology companies poses major threats to democracy and the planet.

Through our robust research agenda, we are determined to deliver positive changes to society’s relationship with digital technologies.

Visit the Minderoo Centre for Technology and Democracy website


Now more than ever it matters to understand shared challenges posed by power, technology, and democracy, and to wrestle with how political regimes matter for the governance of technology, and how different ways of building technology matter for politics, government, and states.

We strive to expand horizons, and analyse shared themes and notable points of divergence, and provide a platform for voices that are current ignored or under-appreciated in the public discourse about tech.

The meaning of democracy has never been stable.

We believe that debates about technology and regulation are often debates about how to understand, interpret, and apply the ideal of democracy and what it means — in complex, modern states, which rely on technologies that most people have neither the interest nor expertise to understand — for citizens to govern themselves and forge their collective state.

We have four key goals to tackle in this research:

  • Enhancing public understanding of digital technologies and their societal effects.
  • Exposing the global environmental consequences of digital technology
  • Proposing solutions for the harmful impact of digital technologies on workers’ rights
  • Building trust in digital technology and asserting the primacy of democratic values over corporate interests


Advisory Board

Emily Bell is Founding Director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia Journalism School, and a leading thinker, commentator and strategist on digital journalism. The majority of her career was spent at Guardian News and Media in London working as an award winning writer and editor both in print and online. As editor-in-chief across Guardian websites and director of digital content for Guardian News and Media, she led the web team in pioneering live blogging, multimedia formats, data and social media ahead, making the Guardian a recognised pioneer in the field. She is co-author (with C.W. Anderson and Clay Shirky) of Post Industrial Journalism: Adapting to the Present (2012), a trustee of the Scott Trust, the owners of The Guardian, a member of Columbia Journalism Review’s board of overseers, an adviser to Tamedia Group in Switzerland, chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Advisory Council on social media, and a member of Poynter’s National Advisory Board.

Diane Coyle is the inaugural Bennett Professor of Public Policy Cambridge. She co-directs the Bennett Institute where she heads research under the themes of progress and productivity, and has been a government adviser on economic policy, including throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. Her latest book, Markets, State and People – Economics for Public Policy examines how societies reach decisions about the use and allocation of economic resources.

Diane is also a Director of the Productivity Institute, a Fellow of the Office for National Statistics, an expert adviser to the National Infrastructure Commission, and Senior Independent Member of the ESRC Council. She has served in public service roles including as Vice Chair of the BBC Trust and as a member of: the Competition Commission; the Migration Advisory Committee; and the Natural Capital Committee. Diane was Professor of Economics at the University of Manchester until March 2018 and was awarded a CBE for her contribution to the public understanding of economics in the 2018 New Year Honours.

David Runciman is Professor of Politics at Cambridge, a Contributing Editor of the London Review of Books and hosts the podcast Talking Politics. He was co-director of the Technology and Democracy project that ran at CRASSH some years ago and is the founding Director of the Centre for the Future of Democracy in the Bennett Institute. He has written extensively on democracy — most recently in How Democracy Ends and is currently working on a book derived from his recent series of online talks, The History of Ideas.

Sheila Hayman is a BAFTA and BAFTA Fulbright winning documentary filmmaker, and Director’s Fellow at the MIT Media Lab. She’s currently working on a film on Artificial Intelligence and its implications. In 2010 her film ‘Mendelssohn, The Nazis and Me’ was nominated for the Grierson Award as Best Arts Documentary, in 2012 she wrote, produced and directed a multilingual miniseries about the Enlightenment which was seen by 150m people, and in 2014 she wrote and produced a major drama-documentary about the Targa Florio road race in Sicily. Website

Richard Danbury is an academic lawyer, a journalist and a former practicing barrister. He directs the MA in investigative journalism at City University, London. He practised — briefly — as a criminal barrister before joining the BBC, where he worked for about a decade, based in News and Current Affairs, and specialising in interviews and investigations. He spent extended periods on programmes such as Newsnight and Panorama and the investigative documentary series Rough Justice. His last staff job was Deputy Editor of the 2010 BBC Prime Ministerial Debate. While at the BBC, he was part of teams that won two Royal Television Society Awards and a New York Festivals medal. He then went freelance, and has worked for Channel 4, Sky and ITN, producing interviews with just about every leader of a main UK political party since 2000, and has worked on TV coverage of the past five general elections. He has also coordinated Channel 4’s investigative journalism training scheme for the past six years, and has been the BBC’s Advanced Legal Trainer for the past nine years. He is a member of the Scott Trust Review Panel, the organisation that deals with editorial complaints in relation to the Guardian’s content.

Julia Powles is Associate Professor of Law and Technology at the University of Western Australia and Director of the Minderoo Tech & Policy Lab there. Scientifically trained and experienced in national and international policy-making, her research focuses on civic and rights-based responses to emerging technologies. She is an expert in privacy, intellectual property, internet governance, and the law and politics of data, automation, and artificial intelligence. Prior to joining UWA, Julia held academic appointments at New York University, Cornell Tech, and the University of Cambridge. She also worked in the Office of the Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organisation, in legal practice, as a contributing editor and policy fellow at the Guardian, as a bioscience researcher, and as a judicial associate in the Federal Court of Australia and Commonwealth Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

John Naughton is Emeritus Professor of the Public Understanding of Technology at the Open University, Director of the Wolfson Press Fellowship Programme, the Observer’s Technology columnist and an inveterate blogger. He was co-Director on two earlier CRASSH research projects — on ‘Conspiracy and Democracy’ and ‘Technology and Democracy’. His most recent book, From Gutenberg to Zuckerberg: What You Really Need to Know about the Internet is published by Quercus.

Steven Connor is the Director of CRASSH, Grace 2 Professor of English in the University of Cambridge and Fellow of Peterhouse, Cambridge. He came to Cambridge in 2012, having been Professor of Modern Literature and Theory at Birkbeck College, London and, from 2003 to 2012, Director of the London Consortium Graduate Programme in Humanities and Cultural Studies, a collaboration between Birkbeck and cultural institutions in the capital, including Tate, the British Film Institute, the Institute of Contemporary Arts, the Architectural Association and the Science Museum. He is a writer, critic and broadcaster, who has published 25 books and edited collections, on a wide range of topics, including Dickens, Beckett, Joyce, value, ventriloquism, skin, flies and the imagination of air. Among his recent books are Dream Machines, an exploration of forms of machine fantasy or ‘psychotechnography’, and The Madness of Knowledge (2019).


Minderoo Centre for Technology and Democracy
Frank Pasquale and Evan Selinger: New Laws of Robotics: Defending Human Expertise in the Age of AI
15 Dec 2020 5:00pm - 6:30pm, Online
Ron Deibert and David Runciman on Reclaiming the Internet for Civil Society
14 Jan 2021 5:00pm - 6:00pm, Online
Can Democracy Keep Pace with Digital Technology?
18 Feb 2021 1:00pm - 2:00pm, Online
How could blockchain disrupt the democratic landscape?
25 Mar 2021 5:00pm - 6:30pm, Free online event
Programmed Inequality: The Consequences of Gender-Bias in the British Computer Industry
27 May 2021 5:30pm - 7:00pm, Online webinar
Cambridge Digital Humanities Social Data School 2021
16 Jun 2021 - 29 Jun 2021 All day, Online
The Cost of Convenience – Technology and The Environment Workshop
17 Jun 2021 12:00pm - 2:00pm, Online
The cost of data: making sense in digital society | CRASSH annual lecture
19 Oct 2021 17:00 - 18:30, Online / McGrath Centre, St Catharine's College, Trumpington Street, Cambridge CB2 1RL

The inaugural CRASSH annual lecture, given by Professor Gina Neff in celebration of CRASSH’s 20th anniversary.

Environmental and labour frameworks for digitised media practice
28 Oct 2021 12:30pm - 1:30pm, Online and Room SG2, Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road, Cambridge CB3 9DT
The Online Information Environment: Royal Society report launch
19 Jan 2022 17:00, Online
Blockchain chicken farm: and other stories of tech in China’s countryside
20 Jan 2022 5:00pm - 6:00pm, online
All data is human: how can we address bias and inequality in data science?
24 Feb 2022 17:00 - 18:00, Online
Does AI advance gender equality?
8 Mar 2022 16:00, Online
SXSW 2022: The right to truth & trust in an age of #Misinfo
15 Mar 2022 11:30 - 12:30 CT, SXSW, Austin, Texas
#BreakTheBias: Women in AI
17 Mar 2022 17:00 - 19:30, Online
Data walk: accessibility and our hidden digital infrastructure
2 Apr 2022 12:00 - 13:00, Guildhall, Market Hill, Cambridge, CB2 3QJ
Viruses, guinea pigs and red pills: exploring the online disinformation maze
6 Apr 2022 18:00 - 19:00, Lecture Theatre A, University of Cambridge Admissions Office, New Museums site, Bene't St, Cambridge CB2 3PT
Platform Socialism: how to reclaim our digital future from big tech
26 Apr 2022 17:00 - 18:00, Online
Azeem Azhar: Exponential
10 May 2022 17:00 - 18:00, Trinity Hall, Cambridge or online
Lisa Parks: ‘Media Infrastructures and Globalisation’
17 May 2022 17:00 - 18:00, Online
Frances Haugen: Can we trust tech?
20 May 2022 17:00 - 18:00, Babbage Lecture Theatre, New Museum Site, Cambridge CB2 3QZ
Assessing police use of facial recognition technology
27 Oct 2022 17:00 BST, Online
Web3 and communities at risk: myths and problems with current experiments
21 Nov 2022 17:00, Online
Responsible data science seminar 6 – Wrap-up
6 Dec 2022 09:00, Online
Where’s my data? The problematic legacy of data-driven campaigning
14 Mar 2023 17:00 GMT, Online
Data Walk: accessibility and our hidden digital infrastructure
25 Mar 2023 12:00-13:00, Cambridge City Centre
The Right to Repair: taking back control of the things we own
28 Mar 2023 17:30 - 19:00, Lee Hall, Wolfson College, Barton Road, Cambridge CB3 9BB
Meredith Broussard: Confronting race, gender, and ability bias in tech
9 May 2023 17:00 , Jesus College, Jesus Lane, Cambridge CB5 8BL
How are new technologies impacting Human Rights?
16 May 2023 17:00 , Online
How do we secure the metaverse? Addressing harms in extended reality
18 Jul 2023 17:00 , Online
Digitalisation of access work: from fiction to policy
19 Sep 2023 17:00 - 18:00, Online event
Interactive workshop | How can democracies claim control of digital tech?
29 Sep 2023 17:30 - 18:30, Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road, Cambridge
AI and the attention economy: what tech companies need to disclose
10 Oct 2023 17:00 - 18:00, Pembroke College, Trumpington Street, Cambridge CB2 1RF
Towards a sustainable digital future in UK film and television
9 Nov 2023 17:00, Online
Is ‘artificial’ intelligent? Understanding human intelligence in the AI age
30 Nov 2023 17:00 - 18:00, St Catharine’s College, Trumpington Street, Cambridge CB2 1RL
A distinct absence: why crypto and web3 tech need ESG frameworks
5 Dec 2023 17:00, Online
The Technology and Democracy conference
15 Apr 2024 - 16 Apr 2024 All day, Cripps Court, Magdalene College, Cambridge
The Atomic Human – Understanding Ourselves in the Age of AI
6 Jun 2024 17:00 - 18:30, University Arms Hotel, 52-42 Regent Street, Cambridge, CB2 1AD
Fostering participation in decision-making on computing infrastructure in the UK and Europe
14 Jun 2024 09:30 - 16:30, Westminster College, Cambridge
Building a roadmap for progressive UK tech policy
16 Jul 2024 13:00 - 16:30 BST, Barbican Centre - Silk St, Barbican, London EC2Y 8DS, UK


Tel: +44 1223 766886
Email enquiries@crassh.cam.ac.uk