Genevieve Bell

Genevieve Bell is director of user experience within Intel’s Interaction and Experience Research group and thinker in residence for South Australia.

Genevieve is an Australian born researcher and anthropologist. As the director of User Interaction and Experience at Intel Labs, it’s her job to help re-imagine the experiences we have with and through computing.

Genevieve is a regular on the international conference circuit and has given a good amount of inspiring keynotes. She’s an incredibly warm and inclusive speaker, and talks about how we can humanise technology by understanding what motivates our behaviour. We love that fact that she’s been bringing the language of research, ethnography and user centred design to a whole new generation of business leaders. This is one of the reasons why Fast Company named her one of the “100 Most Creative People in Business”, for which we thank them wholeheartedly.

Ducks, dolls & robots: a genealogy of socio-technical anxieties.


The introductions of new technologies are rarely seamless and silent affairs. There are the inevitable boosters and utopian dreamers who will tell us and sell us on the notion that this new technology will change our lives, in both big and small ways: we will be cleaner, safer, happier, more efficient, more productive, and of course, more modern with all that implies. The message here is everything will be different, better. There are also the equally inevitable naysayers and dystopian dreamers who worry along equally familiar but slightly different lines: we will be less social, less secure, more isolated, and more homogenous. The message here is everything will be different, but perhaps not so much better. Of course, running in between these larger conversations are the practicalities of living with new technologies — how much does it cost? where does it live? Who should look after it? what will we will do with it? and, in the end, what will we do without it?

Perhaps it is no surprise then that we worry, that new technologies are frequently accompanied by anxiety, and sometimes even fear. In this talk, Genevieve traces the roots of these hopes, fears and anxieties back through our history with machines — Vaucason’s Duck, Edison’s Talking Doll, the tea-cup robots of the Edo-period in Japan, Frankenstein’s monster and Ned Ludd’s polemics are all part of this story. She takes an expansive view, crossing cultures and historical periods, to create a genealogy of our socio-technical anxieties. Ultimately, she suggests a framework for making sense of these anxieties, and in so doing, a new way of thinking about the next generation of technologies we are designing.

Reasons to attend

  • 1Spend 3 whole days improving your UX skills
  • 2Meet your peers and share new ways of thinking
  • 3See world class speakers from the UX industry

"I came. I listened. I stayed. Great event, great crowd, great venue. Learn, network, enjoy."

Don Norman Speaker at UX London 2009