Sara M. Watson

Independent Industry Analyst and Technology Critic
Sara M. Watson
  • Former Principal Analyst at Forrester, Gartner, and Insider Intelligence covering emerging technology with a focus on artificial intelligence, privacy, data, and policy
  • Published in The Atlantic, Wired, and The Washington Post
  • Bridges industry, academia, and consumer tech issues

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Sara M. Watson is an independent industry analyst and technology critic. Her intersectional career covering emerging technology, data, privacy, and tech policy bridges industry, policy, and academia. Sara has covered emerging tech trends for enterprise tech business leaders as a principal analyst at Forrester, Insider Intelligence, and the Gartner Research Board. Sara has been a fellow at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University where her work on personal data and privacy raised awareness of data’s role in the digital economy. As a fellow at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University, her research on the media’s evolving coverage of technology advocated for more constructive technology criticism. 

As a sought-after keynote speaker, Watson helps audiences understand the ways emerging technologies are reshaping business and society, and the opportunities they present for organizations to innovate and operate ahead of the curve. Using accessible, concrete examples, captivating visuals, and a healthy dose of wit and humor in her presentations, Watson’s grounded insights into the possibilities, challenges, and ethical considerations of artificial intelligence, big data, and other emerging tech advancements offer a strategic vision for organizations in any industry. She is not afraid to get provocative in offering constructive criticism of the present while imagining alternative visions for our relationship to technology in the future. With her diverse experience, Watson is able to translate across a wide range of audiences, from industry, to academia, to civil society and policy makers, and consumers alike. She leaves audiences feeling the urgency of the challenges and opportunities that emerging technologies pose, while also feeling empowered and motivated for change. 

Her writing appears in The Atlantic, Wired, The Washington Post, Slate, Motherboard, and other publications, and her work has been cited in the Financial Times and The New Yorker. Watson holds an MSc in the Social Science of the Internet with distinction from the Oxford Internet Institute and graduated from Harvard College magna cum laude with a joint degree in English and American literature and film studies. She spent much of the last decade living in Singapore and China and is now based in New York City.

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Sara M. Watson: Caring for Cassandra | re:publica 2024

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The Agency Interface: Designing for Agency in Our Relationship with Artificial Intelligence. We are at a point in time where we’re seeing a major systems upgrade to the interfaces that shape our relationship with technology, as well as technology’s impact on business and society. In this talk, Sara M. Watson, a widely respected industry analyst and tech critic provides audiences with a fascinating high-level overview of the possibilities for AI to change the ways we live and work. She gives special attention to how the design principles of the new agency interface will preserve our human agency, while enabling us to delegate the appropriate level of agency to AI. As she shares, dialogue, co-creation, and trust are essential elements of the Human-AI dynamic.

The Keys to Ethical and Responsible Tech Innovation. Technology has a trust problem. And it’s not limited to the threats posed by emerging technologies, or the power amassed by Big Tech. Every company is accountable for tech’s impacts on their stakeholders and it’s time for tech leaders to deliver a responsible and ethical technology strategy that earns trust and drives sustainable differentiation. In this talk, tech expert and analyst Sara M. Watson leads a deep dive into the emerging technologies that are transforming the business landscape, such as Generative AI. As she talks through the opportunities new tech presents for organizations to innovate, she also highlights the ethical challenges, while spurring those in the room to consider how they can implement new technologies to support their business objectives in responsible ways.

Caring for Cassandra. Cassandra had the gift of prophecy and suffered the curse of not being believed. Many of our staunchest tech critics today are marginalized for their resistance and refusal. What if we heeded Cassandra’s warnings? Modern day Cassandras of tech — the whistleblowers, critical researchers, and organizers like Timnit Gebru, Rumman Chowdhury, Meredith Whittaker, and Frances Haugen — risk their careers to sound the alarm bells. This talk explores the role of the modern Cassandra and reimagines how the curse can be broken with collective support her visions for the future.

Big Tech and the Techlash. In this talk, independent industry analyst and technology critic Sara M. Watson takes a look at the evolution of criticism in tech coverage, emerging global policies, and governance models to regulate technology, while offering practical insights for how we can move toward a more constructive evaluation of technology.

Moderating and Interviewing. In addition to her keynotes, Sara M. Watson is equally skilled at leading discussions for conference panels, fireside chats, and book talks. She is passionate about facilitating insightful conversations on a wide range of subjects related to technology and society.

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