Caitlin McDonald

Digital Anthropologist

Main focus: AI ethics

Twitter handle: @cmcd_phd

Websites/blogs: ,

Languages: English

City: London

Country: United Kingdom

Topics: ethics, research methodologies, future of work, ethnography, ai ethics, ux research


Dr Caitlin McDonald is a Digital Anthropologist for the Leading Edge Forum. She helps business leaders and teams learn to step outside their version of ‘normal,’ suspend judgement, and consider things from many different perspectives. This gives businesses the leading edge through boosting customer empathy, finding new solutions to old problems, and enriching the insight power of big data through multidisciplinary approaches.

Recognised for her domain knowledge in qualitative methods like ethnography and participant-observation, Caitlin spent six years at the quantitative coal face developing analytical models and designing dashboards for the world’s largest collaboration and talent network for education professionals. Before that Caitlin earned her PhD following dancers around the world and across the internet, understanding how information flows for cultural bodies of knowledge like dance are impacted by technoscapes (the digital world around us.) Her combined expertise gives her a uniquely balanced perspective for gleaning wisdom from the intersection between human imagination and digital systems.

Caitlin is a trustee for Ellpha Citizen, a charity leveraging the power of data science and AI to create a more gender balanced world, faster. Her passion projects include building the Facebook Messenger bot Duologue, which rescues people from uncomfortable silences by providing the user with questions to help keep the conversation going.

Examples of previous talks / appearances:

Ethical Digital: A Learning Journey

We’re not fighting a battle on tech ethics: we’re fighting a battle on ethics, period. Ethics is a hot-button of discussion for the tech industry right now, including rapidly developing fields around artificial intelligence, machine learning and automated decision systems. Why is this important and what are the key risks on the battlefield for tech ethics? At a time when conversations about what is right and wrong are becoming increasingly heated, both within the tech sector and outside it, the worst thing we can do is abdicate our responsibility to shape our ethical future.

This talk is in: English
Reconfiguring the Collaborative Workspace: Making the Most of Time, Space and Attitude

working environments are changing faster than we can adapt and that’s becoming the new normal. We are caught up in the acceleration, trying to fit ourselves to the tools and team situations, knowing at some level that things could be so much better, but lacking the mental models, evidence, and approaches to reflect on and shift patterns which seem to be getting in the way of a better workplace. Amid this current of change there are still moments that can give organizations the space to gain a more nuanced understanding of their communication and collaboration challenges, enabling them to find new (or return to old) ways of getting things done.

This year-long research enquiry digs into the background hum of unquestioned norms which are governing our habits and practices in different workspaces. Using a rich corpus of primary ethnographic research, this report offers new insight into how we can all have more agency in our working environments, and how organizations or teams can seize those transformational moments of pivoting from one state to another, using them as opportunities to establish fruitful and satisfying working conditions.

This talk is in: English