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AI for Democracy




17: Political Sciences

Faculty Supervisor:

Lily Tsai

Faculty email:


Apply by:

January 31, 2021


Please see application instructions under Project Description. Contact mitgovlab@mit.edu with any questions.

Project Description

Background: The MIT Governance Lab (MIT GOV/LAB) is a group of political scientists focusing on innovation in citizen engagement and government responsiveness, based in the Political Science Department of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. More information on our projects and research can be found at https://mitgovlab.org/. Project Overview: This position will support exploratory research on the incubation and ideation of artificial intelligence for democracy, with a focus on capabilities built by and deployed in the developing world. The student will work closely with a visiting Practitioner-in-Residence from South Africa experienced in founding and leading an international civic technology organization. The project centers on how current artificial intelligence models can meaningfully augment human capacities for collective self-governance, with the goal to build towards an agenda for making and testing the next generation of civic technology. The research assistant will help to review recent literature in AI and machine learning and civic tech collect and analyze data, help build and train prototype models, and draw findings. The position would be a good fit for a student interested in the intersection of artificial intelligence and governance. This is an hourly position that will require a serious commitment of approximately 10 hours per week throughout the spring semester and may be completed remotely as needed. To apply, send the following to mitgovlab@mit.edu: 1) CV including list of relevant skills held and relevant courses completed, preferably along with a GitHub profile 2) A brief outline of the current state of research in either language GANs or graph neural networks. You may choose to submit in the format of your choice, including a Jupyter notebook (but submitting a notebook will not provide any advantage). 3) ~1 page written response to “How do you think bias should be dealt with when building AI capabilities in the developing world?”. Your answer should not be exhaustive, and should focus on an awareness (in breadth or depth) of the primary issues, and less so on attempting to propose solutions.


Experience: ○ Juniors and seniors preferred ○ Computer science background with knowledge of AI and machine learning, ideally including completion of 6.034 and/or 6.036 ○ Interest in civic technology ○ Enthusiastic and open-minded approach to exploratory research Skills: ○ Python and the principal frameworks relevant to Machine Learning (PyTorch/Tensorflow, Numpy, etc.) ○ Linear algebra, multivariable calculus, and probability theory