Mary L. Gray

Mary L. Gray

Scholar Title:
Senior Principal Researcher
Microsoft Research

Associate Professor

Department: School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering

Colleges / Universities: Indiana University, Bloomington


Microsoft Research New England
One Memorial Drive
Cambridge, MA 02142
Phone Number: (857) 453-6318


Personal Website: Mary L. Gray

Mary L. Gray is a Senior Researcher at Microsoft Research and Fellow at Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society. She maintains a faculty position in the School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering with affiliations in Anthropology, Gender Studies and the Media School at Indiana University. Her research looks at how technology access, material conditions, and everyday uses of media transform people’s lives.

Professor Gray is a leading expert in the emerging field of AI and ethics, particularly research methods at the intersections of computer and social sciences. Her current research, a collaboration with computer scientist Siddharth Suri, combines ethnography, interviews, and survey data with large-scale platform transaction data to map what they call “ghost work” — contract labor done in the background, often in the shadow, of artificial intelligence. They integrate insights from qualitative and quantitative data to examine the impact of automation on the future of work through workers’ experiences of these on-demand economies. Their recent book, Ghost Work: How to Stop Silicon Valley from Building a New Global Underclass, explores the lives of people paid to train artificial intelligence and, increasingly, serve as “humans in the loop” delivering on-demand services.

In 2020, Professor Gray was named a MacArthur Fellow and received their ‘genius grant’ based on her work investigating the ways in which labor, identity, and human rights are transformed by the digital economy.

Professor Gray is on the editorial boards of Cultural Anthropology, Television and New Media, the International Journal of Communication, and Social Media + Society and has written for and been covered by popular press venues, including the Harvard Business Review, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, the Guardian, Nature, The Economist, and Forbes Magazine. She currently sits on Stanford University’s “One-Hundred-Year Study on Artificial Intelligence” (AI100) Standing Committee, commissioned to reflect on the future of AI and recommend directions for its policy implications, and she currently chairs Microsoft Research’s Ethics Advisory Board, serving as an advisor to peers developing research designs that both collect large-scale data and engage people through social and digital media environments.


Ph.D. in Communication University of California at San Diego, 2004

C. Phil. in Communication University of California at San Diego, 2001

M.A. in Anthropology San Francisco State University, 1999

B.A. in Anthropology University of California at Davis, 1992