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Madeleine Elish


Program Director
AI on the Ground Initiative
Data & Society

Madeleine leads the AI on the Ground Initiative at Data & Society, where she and her team investigate 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. Their 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.

Trained as a cultural anthropologist, Madeleine 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.