Alumnus; Senior Research Scientist, Google

Madeleine Clare Elish

Madeleine Clare Elish is a cultural anthropologist examining the societal impacts of AI and automation.

Madeleine previously led the AI on the Ground Initiative at Data & Society, where she and her team investigated the promises and risks of integrating AI technologies into society. Through human-centered and ethnographic research, AI on the Ground sheds light on the consequences of deploying AI systems beyond the research lab, examining who benefits, who is harmed, and who is accountable. The initiative’s work has focused on how organizations grapple with the challenges and opportunities of AI, from changing work practices and responsibilities to new ethics practices and forms of AI governance.

As a researcher and anthropologist, Madeleine has worked to reframe debates about the ethical design, use, and governance of AI systems. She has conducted field work across varied industries and communities, ranging from the Air Force, the driverless car industry, and commercial aviation to precision agriculture and emergency healthcare. Her research has been published and cited in scholarly journals as well as publications including The New York Times, Slate, The Guardian, Vice, and USA Today. She holds a PhD in Anthropology from Columbia University and an S.M. in Comparative Media Studies from MIT.