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.
Research Lead, Intelligence & Autonomy
Madeleine Clare Elish is a cultural anthropologist whose work examines the social impacts of machine intelligence and automation on society. She is currently a researcher at Data & Society in New York, a non-profit research institute focused on the social impacts of data-driven technology. At Data & Society, she leads the Intelligence & Autonomy Initiative, which develops grounded, qualitative research in order to provide nuanced understandings of emerging machine learning and automated technologies and to inform the design, evaluation, and regulation of AI-driven systems. Her work has investigated how automated technologies affect understandings of values and ethical norms, and how work lives change in response. She recently completed her dissertation at Columbia University in Anthropology after conducting fieldwork with military and defense contractor communities involved in U.S. Air Force drone operations, and examining how distributed 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. She can be found occasionally on twitter @m_c_elish.
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.