[ madeleine clare elish ]



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Madeleine Clare Elish is a cultural anthropologist whose work examines the social impacts of machine intelligence and automation on society.

Currently, she is a researcher at Data & Society Research Institute in New York, an independent non-profit research institute. Her work has investigated how automated technologies affect understandings of values and ethical norms, and how work lives change in response. At Data & Society, she leads the Intelligence and Autonomy Initiative, which develops social science research in order to reframe public understandings of machine learning and automation, and to inform the design, evaluation, and regulation of AI-driven systems.

Prior to Data & Society, she received her PhD in Anthropology from Columbia University. Her dissertation involved conducting fieldwork with military and defense contractor communities involved in U.S. Air Force drone operations, and examined how distributed "unmanned" drone operations are affecting conceptions of skill, expertise, and military service in the United States. She previously earned an S.M. in Comparative Media Studies at MIT, where she researched the role of video demos in communicating robotics research as well as how early marketing campaigns influenced the adoption of home computers in the 1980s.

In addition to her academic research, she has experience engaging with product development stakeholders in industry. She has conducted qualitative research for firms interested in developing new strategies based on social science and ethnographic insights. Once upon a time, she worked for a design firm called Patten Studio that creates all kinds of interactive projects, interned at WNYC's On the Media, and worked for the contemporary art gallery gavin brown's enterprise.