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

The Intelligence & Autonomy Initiative develops grounded, qualitative research in order to provide nuanced understandings of emerging technologies and to inform the design, evaluation, and regulation of AI-driven systems.

Rather than focus on utopian dreaming or dystopian fears, our work begins from the position that the historical and social contexts in which AI systems emerge and operate should be central to debates about their uses and potential effects. We believe that structures of governance and accountability need to be informed from the bottom-up, with rich and textured understandings of real world conditions on the ground. To contribute to and develop these understandings, we produce empirical research as well as engage a range of stakeholders, aiming to foster productive interdisciplinary and inter-institutional conversations.

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


I&A is supported by a research grant from The Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Fund, and was previously supported by grants from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and Microsoft Research.


Our Team

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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.

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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.

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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.