The Banality of Scale: How ‘Colorblind’ Tech is Killing Us and Other Lessons from the Pandemic

Mary L. Gray

Mary L. Gray is Senior Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research and Faculty Associate at Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society. She maintains a faculty position in the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering with affiliations in Anthropology and Gender Studies at Indiana University. Mary, an anthropologist and media scholar by training, focuses on how people’s everyday uses of technologies transform labor, identity, and human rights. She earned her PhD in Communication from the University of California at San Diego in 2004, under the direction of Susan Leigh Star. Her books include In Your Face: Stories from the Lives of Queer Youth (1999), Out in the Country: Youth, Media, and Queer Visibility in Rural America (2009), and, most recently, Ghost Work: How to Stop Silicon Valley from Building a New Global Underclass, co-authored with computer scientist Siddharth Suri. 

Ghost Work chronicles workers’ experiences of on-demand information gig work—from content moderation and data-labeling to telehealth—and their essential role in the global growth of artificial intelligence and platform economies more broadly. The book was named a Financial Times’ Critic’s Pick and awarded the McGannon Center for Communication Research Book Prize in 2019.

Mary also chairs the Microsoft Research Ethics Review Program—the only federally-registered institutional review board of its kind in Tech—and she is recognized as a leading expert in the emerging field of AI and ethics. Her research has been covered by publications ranging from The Guardian, El Pais, and The New York Times to Nature, The Economist, and Forbes Magazine. Mary currently sits on several boards, including the California Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors and Public Responsibility in Medicine and Research (PRIM&R).

In 2020, Mary was named a MacArthur Fellow for her contributions to anthropology and the study of technology, digital economies, and society.

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