The Intelligence & Autonomy Initiative aims to reframe debates around the rise of machine intelligence.

The need for the project arises from the observation that research and regulatory work in this technology space has tended to treat these systems as industry-specific developments. For instance, robots are considered a problem space distinct from that arising with algorithmic software agents. These divisions also persist in the regulatory approach; different agencies handle the rise of these technologies in their arena as they appear, rather than addressing them as a more general phenomena.

The objective of I&A is to help bolster the analysis of these issues by expanding the analysis of intelligent systems holistically. In doing so, the project aims to expose the recurring problems which confront designers and policymakers in implementing these systems across domains as varied as healthcare, policing, capital markets, social media and transportation.

As part of this goal, I&A is also dedicated to expanding the frame through which we understand the rise of intelligent systems through historical research, placing recent innovations in the context of former waves of automation and technological development. By doing so, I&A aims to produce more effective policy-making and also temper some of the claims being made about these technologies.

To see a collection of our research and writing, head to our publications page.

I&A is supported by grants from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and Microsoft Research.

Our Team


Tim Hwang

Tim Hwang is a partner at Robot Robot & Hwang, a law firm and technology consultancy focusing on experiments at the intersection of legal and computer code. He leads an initiative seeking to develop general principles and common frameworks to guide policymaking as intelligent systems emerge and become increasingly ubiquitous in a variety of arenas including capital markets, warfare, medicine, transportation, and social life at large.


Madeleine Clare Elish

Madeleine Clare Elish is a cultural anthropologist focusing on the social impact of artificial intelligence and automation. Her research investigates how new technologies affect understandings of values and ethical norms, particularly in professional and labor contexts. Her dissertation examines how the sociotechnical systems of drone operations are implicated in changing conceptions of skill, honor and military service in the United States. Madeleine also works as a researcher with the Intelligence & Autonomy Initiative at Data & Society which develops empirical and historical research in order to ground policy debates around the rise of machine intelligence. She is currently a doctoral candidate in Anthropology at Columbia University and previously earned an S.M. in Comparative Media Studies at MIT. She can be found occasionally on twitter @mcette.


Alex Rosenblat

Alex Rosenblat is a researcher and technical writer. Her areas of research include socio-technical systems, the intersection of technology and labor, and the social and civil rights implications of emergent technologies. Alex also explores surveillant systems in a range of areas, including policing as well as the workplace. She currently examines the relationship between semi-automated systems and labor management. She holds an MA in Sociology from Queen’s University in Canada, and a BA in History from McGill University.