AI Democratisation

Artificial Intelligence (AI) already has a transformative impact on our societies. There is more potential to improve people’s everyday lives, culturally, socially and economically. This potential stands and falls with further AI democratisation, by which we mean the extent to which people are involved in the design, development, application, and testing of AI. AI democratisation is currently reduced either to the responsible, transparent, and explainable development of AI in the science and tech industries or to the regulation of AI by governments and institutions to curb the power of platform companies and empower users to make informed choices. To harness the full potential of AI to improve the quality of people’s lives and to help respond to persistent social challenges such as social injustice and inequality, a stronger push for the democratization of AI beyond these initiatives is needed. It entails an approach in which individuals, communities, and civil society play a central and continuous role in the design, development, application, and advancement of AI and the conceptualisation of the values that inform its design.


With this call, we would like to promote interdisciplinary research into the relationship between AI and democracy and provide a platform for early-career researchers and students to launch their own projects in topics such as countering misinformation and polarization, enabling civic engagement and co-creation, and empowering marginalized and vulnerable groups in society.  Humane AI  is launching this seed funding call together with the Civic AI Lab as part of a broader UvA ambition to build communities and stimulate cross-faculty and interdisciplinary research on AI and democratisation. 

The grants have a duration of max half a year, counting from the starting date. They are available to all postgraduate students (Masters and PhDs) as well as early-career researchers from PostDocs to Assistant Professors (up to 5 years from the PhD) at the UvA. The grants can be used 

  1. to pay parts of a salary for 6 months and max. up to 0,4 FTE as well as up to €4,000 material costs to realise an idea in interdisciplinary AI and democracy research. This can be a pilot study in preparation of a PhD application, a specific part of a research project, or to continue work after funding has come to an end. If you are applying from within UvA, we will require agreement from your department/unit/supervisor to make certain that the additional time does not interfere with your current study or work.
    While applications from outside of UvA together with departments within UvA are welcome, please note that this arrangement requires that you have the right to work in the Netherlands.
  2. to request up to €10,000 of travel and consumable costs for a particular project if you would like to organise a lecture series, seminar, workshop, develop a collaborative funding proposal, or need particular equipment or resources for your project (e.g, for paying participants in experiments; conducting surveys; collecting and managing data; server time).   


Application procedure:

  • Applications should be submitted no later than the 21st of April (end of the day).
  • Applications should be submitted via email (see instructions at the bottom of this page).
  • Decisions will be taken at the beginning of early May.
  • The research would need to start between September 2022 and April 2023.
  • Decisions are made by the RPA Human(e) AI Steering Committee together with the Civic AI Lab leadership, using the criteria below.


Evaluation criteria:

  • An innovative idea that focuses on interdisciplinary research
  • Focus on AI and democracy/the democratisation of AI
  • The seed funding project is available for research that is to be executed within the UvA
  • Academic excellence and social engagement/impact including a plan for outreach and engagement with the broader UvA community
  • The committee may also apply additional macro criteria such as disciplinary, gender, thematic, and programmatic diversity
  • Letter of support by the head of the department or group – if appropriate.



To submit, please send your proposal to using this submission form.