Dr. Beth Semel holds a PhD from MIT in History, Anthropology, Science, Technology and Society, and an MA in Anthropology from Brandeis University. Her work explores the intersection of computing, biomedicine, and communication sciences in the contemporary United States.
Since 2015, she has been ethnographically studying Computational Psychiatry, focusing on efforts to integrate machine listening techniques into psychiatric research and medicine. Through a behind-the-screen look at the labor involved in building and testing psychiatric listening technologies with research subjects, she tracks how these projects torque and reiterate hegemonic ideas about listening, language, automation, expertise, and care. Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the Weatherhead Foundation, and the Society for Psychological Anthropology, and published in The Journal of Linguistic Anthropology.
As a Postdoctoral Associate at MIT, she will teach 21A.151 Language, Culture, and Communication. She will also conduct preliminary research for her second project on the creation of synthetic voices for a variety of applications, from voice banking and personalized assistive communication technologies to so-called vocal deep fakes.