M.C. Elish is a cultural anthropologist whose work examines the social impacts of AI and automation on society. She currently leads the Intelligence & Autonomy Initiative at Data & Society. The Intelligence & Autonomy Initiative aims to reframe debates about the rise of AI and reposition the value of human intelligence in the design, deployment, and evaluation of AI-driven systems. Her recent work has investigated how AI technologies affect understandings of values and ethical norms and how professional work lives change in response.
She has conducted field work across varied industries and communities, ranging from the Air Force, civilian drone regulation, and commercial aviation to precision agriculture and emergency clinical care. Her research has been published and cited in scholarly journals as well as publications including The New York Times, Slate, Vice, and USA Today. She holds a PhD in Anthropology from Columbia University and an S.M. in Comparative Media Studies from MIT.