Genevieve Bell

Genevieve Bell by Tegan Osborne (ABC RN).jpg
Genevieve Bell in 2017
Sydney, Australia
Alma materBryn Mawr College
Stanford University
OccupationCultural Anthropologist

Genevieve Bell AO FTSE is an Australian cultural anthropologist best known for her work at the intersection of cultural practice research and technological development (including as a pioneer in the field of futurist research[1]), and for being an industry pioneer of the user experience field.[2] Bell is the director of the Autonomy, Agency and Assurance Innovation Institute (3Ai), which was co-founded by the Australian National University (ANU) and CSIRO’s Data61, and a Distinguished Professor of the ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science.[3][4] She holds the university's inaugural Florence Violet McKenzie Chair[5][6] and is the first SRI International Engelbart Distinguished Fellow.[7] Bell is a senior fellow at Intel, where she was formerly a vice president directing the company's Corporate Sensing & Insights group. She is widely published, and holds 13 patents.

Early life

Daughter of renowned Australian anthropologist, Diane Bell, Genevieve Bell was born in Sydney and raised in a range of Australian communities, including Melbourne, Canberra, and in several Aboriginal Communities in the Northern Territory.[8][9][10] Bell attended university in the United States, where she graduated from Bryn Mawr College[8] in 1990 with a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Philosophy in anthropology. Bell went on to attend Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, for graduate studies.[8][9] In 1993, she earned her master's degree from Stanford, followed by a PhD in 1998, both in anthropology.[8] Her doctoral research focused on the Carlisle Indian Industrial School which operated in rural Pennsylvania in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.[10]


From 1996 to 1998, Bell taught anthropology and Native American Studies at Stanford University, in both the department of anthropology and department of anthropological sciences, as well as in the continuing studies program.

She was recruited from her faculty position by Intel Corporation in 1998 to help build out their nascent social-science research competency in the advanced research and development labs.[11][12] She was based at one of the company's campuses in Hillsboro, Oregon, where she worked as a cultural anthropologist studying how different cultures around the globe used technology.[11][12][13] She and her colleagues helped re-orient Intel to a more market-inspired and experience-driven approach and she is widely credited with establishing User Experience as a recognised competency at Intel.[14]

She started Intel's first User Experience Group in 2005, as part of Intel's Digital Home Group. The company named her an Intel Fellow, their highest technical rank, in November 2008 for her work in the Digital Home Group.[15] She rejoined the advanced research and development labs in 2010, when Intel made her the director of their newly forming User Experience Research group.[11] This group was Intel's first fully integrated user experience research and development group; they worked on questions of big data, smart transportation, next generation image technology and ideas about fear and wonder.[14] After steering that group to a range of successes inside and outside the company, she was made a vice president in 2014 and senior fellow in 2016.

Bell's impact has been recognised repeatedly outside Intel.[16] In 2010, she was named one of the Top 25 Women in Technology to Watch by AlwaysOn and as one of the 100 Most Creative People in Business by Fast Company.[9][17] In 2012, Bell was inducted to the Women in Technology International Hall of Fame[18] and in 2013, she was named Anita Borg’s Women of Vision in Leadership. In 2014, she was included in Elle Magazine's first list of influential women in technology[19] and also included in a new exhibit at London's Design Museum profiling 25 women from around the world.[20]

Her first book, Divining a Digital Future: Mess and Mythology in Ubiquitous Computing, written in collaboration with Paul Dourish, is an exploration of the social and cultural aspects of ubiquitous computing, with a particular focus on the disciplinary and methodological issues that have shaped the ubiquitous computing research agenda. The book was published by MIT Press in 2011.[21]

An earlier essay from 2007 by Bell, also co-authored with Dourish, "“Resistance is Futile”: Reading Science Fiction Alongside Ubiquitous Computing", has been widely cited as an inspiration for, or a key influence on, the emergence of the field of design fiction.[22]

Bell was also a Thinker in Residence for South Australia from 2008 to 2010.[23] Her visiting appointment was intended to help guide government policy surrounding a new national broadband initiative. Bell conducted ethnographic research and developed new innovative research methods to identify barriers to adoption and drivers around broadband uptake. Her final report, “Getting Connected, staying connected: exploring the role of new technology in Australian society” is available online.[24]

After 18 years as Intel's resident anthropologist in Silicon Valley, Bell returned to Australia in 2017 as the first of five appointments under the ANU Vice-Chancellor Brian Schmidt's Entrepreneurial Fellows scheme.[3] She is a distinguished professor at the ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science, where she is focusing on "exploring how to bring together data science, design thinking and ethnography to drive new approaches in engineering; and ... exploring the questions of what it means to be human in a data-driven economy and world".[4] She is the university's inaugural appointee of the Florence Violet McKenzie Chair, named in honour of Australia's first female electrical engineer.[5]

In 2017, the ANU announced a major 10-year plan to drive the expansion of its program in engineering and computer science. The expansion in part was to be led by Bell as the director of the newly founded Autonomy, Agency and Assurance Institute, to be known as the 3A Institute or 3Ai, co-founded by Australian National University and CSIRO’s Data61, Australia's largest data innovation network.[25] The 3A Institute brings together a diverse team from a range of disciplines to tackle complex problems around artificial intelligence, data and technology and managing their impact on humanity.[6]

In October 2017, Bell presented the ABC's 2017 Boyer Lectures, interrogating what it means to be human, and Australian, in a digital world.[26] Bell joins the list of prominent Australians selected each year by the ABC since 1959 to present the annual Boyer Lectures and stimulate a national conversation on social, cultural and political issues of contemporary Australian society.[27]

Since returning to Australia, Bell's expertise in the field of AI development and regulation has been recognised by government and industry. At the 2016 Advance Awards, Bell received the Award for Technology Innovation and Overall 2016 Advance Global Australian Award.[28] In October 2018, Bell was elected as a fellow of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (ATSE), a not-for-profit organisation which brings together leading minds in technology and engineering from academia, government and industry sectors.[29] She was also appointed to the National Science and Technology Advisory Council among other members including Nobel Laureate and ANU Vice-Chancellor Brian Schmidt and Chair Prime Minister Scott Morrison.[30] The council is responsible for providing expert advice to the prime minister and other ministers on science and technology challenges facing Australia.[31]

In January 2019, Bell was appointed as an independent non-executive director of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia Board.[32]

On January 22, 2020, Bell was named the first Engelbart Distinguished Fellow by SRI International. The fellowship is named after Douglas C. Engelbart, a pioneer of modern computing, and recognises 'visionaries who are disrupting the traditional way we interact with and view technology' from around the globe.[7] Shortly after, Bell was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia in the 2020 Australia Day Honours for distinguished service to education, particularly to the social sciences and cultural anthropology.[33]


  1. ^ "For journalists » Professor Genevieve Bell". Australia National University. Australia National University. Retrieved 4 September 2022.
  2. ^ Fields, Rob (16 July 2015). "The Culture Q&A: Intel's Genevieve Bell (Part 1)". Forbes. Retrieved 4 September 2022.
  3. ^ a b Dodd, Tim (4 September 2017). "Answering the profound questions raised by AI". Financial Review. Retrieved 17 October 2017.
  4. ^ a b "Leading technologist joins ANU, CSIRO's Data61 collaboration". ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science. The Australian National University. 27 January 2017. Retrieved 27 January 2017.
  5. ^ a b "McKenzie Chair". ANU College of Engineering & Computer Science. 23 October 2017. Retrieved 5 February 2020.
  6. ^ a b "ANU announces major expansion to drive societal response to the artificial intelligence revolution". ANU. 4 September 2017. Retrieved 4 February 2020.
  7. ^ a b "AI visionary named first Engelbart Distinguished Fellow by SRI International". SRI. 22 January 2020. Retrieved 5 February 2020.
  8. ^ a b c d "Genevieve Bell". Intel Fellow. Intel. Retrieved 31 July 2010.
  9. ^ a b c McGirt, Ellen. "45 Genevieve Bell". 100 Most Creative People in Business. Fast Company. Archived from the original on 29 May 2010. Retrieved 31 July 2010.
  10. ^ a b McDuling, John (23 June 2017). "Genevieve Bell and the fight to remind tech that human beings matter". Australian Financial Review. Retrieved 5 February 2020.
  11. ^ a b c Rogoway, Mike (30 June 2010). "Intel makes anthropologist Genevieve Bell head of new research group". The Oregonian. Retrieved 31 July 2010.
  12. ^ a b Barnett, Megan (12 June 2005). "Keeping An Eye On You". U.S. News & World Report. Archived from the original on 21 June 2009.
  13. ^ Hoevel, Ann (13 July 2010). "Geeks: Smart, harmless, authentic, exploited?". CNN. Retrieved 31 July 2010.
  14. ^ a b Singer, Natasha (15 February 2014). "Intel's Sharp Eyed Social Scientist". New York Times. Retrieved 27 December 2014.
  15. ^ Rogoway, Mike (10 November 2008). "Intel honors Oregon researchers". The Oregonian. Retrieved 31 July 2010.
  16. ^ Enderle, Rob (30 June 2010). "Genevieve Bell: Intel's Seceret Weapon". Velum Media. Archived from the original on 24 April 2016.
  17. ^ Perkins, Tony (29 July 2010). "The 2010 Top 25 Women in Tech to Watch". AlwaysOn. Archived from the original on 7 July 2011. Retrieved 31 July 2010.
  18. ^ "WITI Announces 2012 Hall of Fame Award Honorees: Dr. Genevieve Bell; Dr. Jane Lubchenco; Dr. Joanne Martin; Ms. Gwynne Shotwell". 15 May 2012.
  19. ^ "Genevieve Bell, Vice President User Experience Research, Intel Corporation". Elle Magazine. 12 June 2014. Retrieved 27 December 2014.
  20. ^ "Women, Fashion & Power". Design Museum. October 2014. Retrieved 28 December 2014.
  21. ^ Dourish, Paul; Bell, Genevieve (2011). MIT Press page for "Divining a Digital Future.". ISBN 9780262015554. Archived from the original on 25 April 2011. Retrieved 2 February 2011.
  22. ^ Google Scholar. Google”%3A+Reading+Science+Fiction+Alongside+Ubiquitous+Computing&btnG=. Retrieved 4 September 2022. ((cite web)): Missing or empty |title= (help)
  23. ^ "Adelaide Thinkers In Residence - Genevieve Bell". Archived from the original on 13 November 2013. Retrieved 17 December 2013.
  24. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 24 August 2016.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  25. ^ Baker, Emily (4 September 2017). "ANU to drive 'artificial intelligence revolution'". Canberra Times. Retrieved 17 October 2017.
  26. ^ "Introducing 2017 Boyer Lecturer, Prof Genevieve Bell". ABC Radio National. 4 September 2017. Retrieved 5 February 2020.
  27. ^ "Past lecture series: 1959 - 2018". ABC Radio National. 4 October 2013. Retrieved 4 February 2020.
  28. ^ "Genevieve Bell". Advance. Retrieved 5 February 2020.
  29. ^ "Genevieve Bell announced as Engineering Fellow". ANU. 28 October 2018. Retrieved 5 February 2020.
  30. ^ "National Science and Technology Council". Australia's Chief Scientist. Retrieved 5 February 2020.
  31. ^ "New members appointed to National Science and Technology Advisory Council". Minister for Industry, Science and Technology. 17 December 2018. Retrieved 4 February 2020.
  32. ^ "Commonwealth Bank Appoints a New Non-Executive Director". Commbank. 18 December 2019. Retrieved 5 February 2020.
  33. ^ "Award Extract - Genevieve Bell". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Retrieved 4 February 2020.