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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.

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 economies—from content moderation and data-labeling to telehealth—and their essential role in the global growth of artificial intelligence and the future of work 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. 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 has served or currently contributes to several boards, including the AI100 Steering Committee, the Coalition for Health AI, the American Anthropological Association, the California Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors, and Public Responsibility in Medicine and Research (PRIM&R) and is the current Board President of the Data Nutrition Project.

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


Jun 25, 2020

Digital Contact Tracing: Perspectives on approaches to COVID-19

Members of Digital Pandemic Response Working Group share their ideas

Essay series captures some of the current thinking about contact tracing and COVID-19

Jun 18, 2020

Technology and contact tracing

Panel offers open questions, calls for collaboration

Experts from tech and public health sectors share open questions for stakeholders engaging in tech and contact tracing

Sep 9, 2015

Welcome New Fellows: William Li and Mary Gray

By Summer 2015 Interns Achyuth Samudrala and Alyssa Smith

  Q&A with William Li, PhD student in computer science …



Mary L. Gray: The invisible "ghost" workforce powering our day-to-day lives

BKC Faculty Associate Mary Gray discusses the invisible "ghost" workforce.

Aug 26, 2022
MacArthur Foundation

Tressie McMillan Cottom and Mary Gray receive 2020 MacArthur Fellowships

Faculty associates receive “genius grants” for “extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits.”

Oct 6, 2020
Scientific American

Contact Tracing, a Key Way to Slow COVID-19, Is Badly Underused by the U.S.

Mary Gray speaks with Scientific American

Jul 22, 2020

The new invisible workforce

"We are living through the tech-enabled unraveling of full-time employment itself”

Jul 21, 2020

Worker Health Monitoring Post-COVID-19 Raises Equity and Public Health Concerns

BKC's Mary Gray on the role of corporations in public health and worker surveillance

May 26, 2020
The Hill

How human-centered tech can beat COVID-19 through contact tracing

Mary Gray proposes several ways that technology can aid in the fight against COVID-19 that help rather than replace healthcare workers.

Apr 21, 2020
The Office of the Governor of California

Mary Gray announced as member of Governor Gavin Newsom's Council of Economic Advisors

The Council will advise the Governor and Director of the California Department of Finance on wide-ranging economic issues

Feb 21, 2020
Centre for International Governance Innovation

The “Ghost Workers” Underpinning the World’s Artificial Intelligence Systems

Mary Gray on the need for a better social contract when it comes to the rights of informal workers

Dec 9, 2019

The ‘ghost work’ powering tech magic

Armies of workers help power the technological wizardry that is reshaping our lives – but they are invisible and their jobs are precarious.

Sep 1, 2019
The New York Times

A.I. Is Learning From Humans. Many Humans.

Inside the labor-intensive process that enables AI’s creation.

Aug 16, 2019

Takeaways from the Ethical Tech Industry Workshop

What could an industry standard for socially responsible, ethically-attuned technologies look like?

Jul 15, 2019
Harvard Law Today

The hidden labor supporting algorithms

“Ghost Work” reveals labor structures masked by technology

Jul 3, 2019
The Economist

Mary Gray joins “Money Talks” to discuss “Ghost Work”

Mary Gray is the co-author of Ghost Work: How to Stop Silicon Valley from Building a New Global Underclass

Jun 25, 2019
MIT Technology Review

The AI gig economy is coming for you

The AI industry runs on the invisible labor of humans working in isolated and often terrible conditions—and the model is spreading to more and more businesses.

May 31, 2019
The Atlantic

The AI Supply Chain Runs on Ignorance

Tech companies often fail to tell users how their data will be employed. Sometimes, the firms can’t even anticipate it themselves.

May 14, 2019

‘Ghost Work’ explores the ups and mostly downs of the hidden gig economy

Siddharth Suri and BKC’s Mary Gray discuss their book “Ghost Work” with GeekWire

May 14, 2019
The Verge

How Silicon Valley’s successes are fueled by an underclass of ‘ghost workers’

The invisible labor that makes our technology run

May 13, 2019
Washington Post

The hidden global workforce that is still fighting for an eight-hour workday

Millions of workers are doing on-demand work to keep the Internet running smoothly, and they are now fighting for similar rights that full-time employees won decades ago.

Apr 30, 2019

What Do We Owe to the Internet’s “First Responders?”

Experts share perspectives on the ethics and legality of how social platforms moderate content

Until AI catches up, tens of thousands of human content moderators all around the world will continue to ingest thousands of posts of potentially toxic posts on social media,…

Apr 17, 2019


Oct 20, 2020 @ 12:00 PM

Two Geniuses Walk into a Zoom

Podcast & Video: A Conversation with Tressie McMillan Cottom & Mary L. Gray

Podcast & Video: Tressie McMillan Cottom & Mary L. Gray discuss their latest work in relation to their recent MacArthur Fellows award.

Jun 17, 2020 @ 11:00 AM

Contact Tracing and Technology: A Deep Dive

BKC co-hosts conversation on digital data and public health

BKC co-hosts conversation on digital data and public health

May 21, 2019 @ 7:00 PM

Ghost Work

Book Launch & Reception with author Mary L. Gray

How services delivered by companies like Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Uber can only function smoothly thanks to the judgment and experience of a vast, invisible human labor force

Apr 12, 2019 @ 3:00 PM

The Cleaners

Film Screening and Panel Discussion

Told in the sinister style of a neon, cyberpunk thriller, The Cleaners charts social media’s evolution from a shared vision of a global village to a dangerous web of fake news,…

Apr 17, 2018 @ 12:00 PM

Honoring All Expertise: Social Responsibility and Ethics in Tech

featuring Kathy Pham & Friends from the Berkman Klein Community

Learn more about social responsibility and ethics in tech from cross functional perspectives featuring social scientists, computer scientists, historians, lawyers, political…

Nov 3, 2015 @ 12:00 PM

Re-assembling the Assembly Line: Digital Labor Economies and Demands for an Ambient Workforce

with Berkman Fellow, Mary L. Gray

Tuesday, November 3, 2015, at 12:00 pm Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University Harvard Law School Campus,…

Feb 9, 2010 @ 12:30 PM

Beyond online/offline: Information access, public spaces, & boundaries of visibility for queer youth in the rural US

Mary L. Gray, Indiana University

Drawing on her experiences working for 2 years in rural parts of Kentucky and in small towns along its borders, Mary will map out how lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and questioning…