Josh is a research assistant based at the Alan Turing Institute, where he facilitates the work of the Institute’s Data Ethics Group. Josh’s current research agenda centres on the implications of big data, artificial intelligence and automation on politics, business and society at large.

Josh recently completed a graduate degree at MIT, where he investigated the impact of social media on the 2016 presidential election. Josh was previously a research assistant and Master’s student at the OII, working on projects relating to big data, open data, state surveillance and the use of web archives for research. Josh’s published research takes the form of journal articles, book chapters and reports, and his contributions have been featured in titles like Wired UK and the Guardian

Research interests

Data science, artificial intelligence, data ethics, public opinion, web archives, surveillance, open data, digital democracy.

Positions held at the OII

  • Research Associate, July 2017 –
  • Research Assistant, September 2013 – August 2015
  • MSc Student, October 2012 – August 2013


Past projects

  • Accessing and Using Big Data to Advance Social Science Knowledge

    Participants: Professor Ralph Schroeder, Professor Eric T. Meyer, Dr Linnet E. M. Taylor, Josh Cowls

    The project will follow 'big data' from its public and private origins through open and closed pathways into the social sciences, and document and shape the ways they are being accessed and used to create new knowledge about the social world.

  • Big UK Domain Data for the Arts and Humanities

    Participants: Professor Ralph Schroeder, Professor Eric T. Meyer, Josh Cowls

    The Big UK Domain Data for the Arts and Humanities project works with data derived from the UK domain crawl from 1996 to 2013, in order to develop a framework for the study of web archive data and produce a major history of the UK web space.


  • The Globalist

    16 April 2015 Monocle

    Monicle's broadcast news programme talks to Josh Cowls about the EU antitrust case against Google. (15.30 on the clock)

  • The Briefing

    25 March 2015 Monocle 24

    Josh Cowls talks about diplomacy on twitter after the US Ambassador to Libya left the site as a result of online attacks after she tweeted about an air strike. (from 20.00)

  • Twitter, Facebook, Instagram: who are the world’s most popular football clubs?

    9 December 2014 Guardian Sportblog

    Why the global football clubs are put so much store on scoring via social media. Josh Cowls talks about the online relationships between clubs and their supporters around the world.

  • Why big data has some big problems when it comes to public policy

    28 August 2014 Washington Post

    A feature on the this year’s Association for Computing Machinery's Special Interest Group on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining conference mentions a presentation by Josh Cowls.

  • The Bill Heine Show

    1 June 2014 BBC Radio Oxford

    Josh Cowls joined the Sunday morning discussion show on local BBC Radio Oxford talking about the upsides and downsides of social media. (c17:44 on the clock)