Sara Watson

Sara M. Watson is a technology critic, an affiliate with the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, and a writer in residence at Digital Asia Hub. Sara researches and speaks about emerging issues in the intersection of technology, culture, and society with a particular focus on data, including Big Data, the Quantified Self, algorithms, and artificial intelligence, and smart cities. She presents at technology conferences around the globe, including SXSW and O’Reilly Strata.

As a Fellow at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University, Sara published a report in the Columbia Journalism Review that proposed a constructive approach to technology criticism that not only critiques, but also offers alternatives. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, Wired, Gizmodo, Motherboard, Harvard Business Review, Al Jazeera America, and Slate.

Sara began her career as an enterprise technology analyst at The Research Board (Gartner, Inc.), exploring implications of technological trends for Fortune 500 CIOs. She holds an MSc in the Social Science of the Internet with distinction from the Oxford Internet Institute, where her award winning thesis examined the personal data practices of the Quantified Self community. She graduated from Harvard College magna cum laude with a joint degree in English and American literature and film studies. Her work continues to draw from media studies, science and technology studies, anthropology, and literature. Sara splits time between Singapore, Cambridge, and New York. She tweets @smwat.

Topics

  • Big data, algorithms, and personal data: “Taking Personalization Personally,” exploring the human impacts of data as it is collected, interpreted, and used for decision making and personalization in our lives.
  • Artificial intelligence: “The AI Story So Far,” on the dominant apocalyptic narratives we focus on about AI, and why we need more grounded, practical stories to understand our human-machine relationships with AI
  • Smart cities: grounded Singapore case study as a test bed for smart city issues of the future
  • Wearable tech and the Quantified Self: what consumers do with data, and what we can learn about making data accessible and manageable for users

Testimonials

Excellent opening session as well as the thought-provoking and again tone-setting evening intervention.  Very nicely done and greatly appreciated.
~  Urs Gasser, Executive Director of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University

I saw your presentation at The Conference and have circulated it so often, and watched it so much myself that I felt I should just go ahead any connect with you. I felt it was a great topic and presentation and didn’t skirt the issue as a lot of data people often do.
~  Crystal Ogram, Associate Director, SEO at Reprise Media

Thanks for so deftly outlining the issues that had been rattling around in my head.
~  Joseph Lorenzo Hall, Chief Technologist, Center for Democracy & Technology

Excellent, extraordinarily well researched, highly insightful, and absolutely desperately needed, and a valuable resource for years to come.
~ Dr. Edward Morbius

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