Laboratory for Social Machines

Enabling human-machine collaborations that enhance our ability to listen, learn and engage across communities.

The Laboratory for Social Machines seeks to enable human-machine collaborations that enhance our ability to listen, learn and engage across communities ranging from in-person groups — like families of children in public schools — to virtual clusters on platforms like Twitter and Facebook.

The LSM team develops data science methods — primarily based on natural language processing, network science, and machine learning — to map and analyze social systems, and design tools that empower new forms of human listening and learning.

For example, LSM’s recent “Electome” project analyzed public conversations and social networks surrounding the 2016 US Presidential Election as they formed and evolved on Twitter.  Our “Playful Words” project aims to tackle illiteracy in underserved communities through a mobile app that engages a child’s social network in her learning process.  And our collection of “Deep Listening” projects seek out unheard voices across the country to analyze and better understand the concerns and hopes of residents who represent America’s social fabric.

We are an interdisciplinary team of researchers with backgrounds that include machine learning + AI, interaction design, cognitive science, child development + education, journalism, marketing, and constitutional law.  We are committed to deploying our research through partnerships with external organizations such as the news media, education non-profits, businesses and advocacy groups.

Recently, the LSM team has established a  nonprofit—Cortico—to scale up professional deployment of LSM media analytics R&D. With the mission of fostering a healthy public sphere for all, Cortico provides newsrooms, advocacy and nonprofit organizations, and community influencers tools and programs to connect with their audiences on greater common ground.