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 Overthinking for   a living

Hello. I’m a writer and academic based at UNSW Sydney. My research interests are eclectic and include: ethical tech design; artificial intelligence; sex and gender; the governance of the metaverse; technology-facilitated gender-based violence; LGBTQI+ issues; and wrangling super wicked problems in complex systems. I also build open-source AI prototypes for educators and researchers. My day job includes teaching social entrepreneurship, lean startup, and how to use evidence-based alchemy to turn humanity degrees into jobs. I mentioned the eclecticism, right?

I've presented the findings of my research on the social and ethical impacts of emerging technology to the Australian Human Rights Commission, the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, the Festival of Dangerous Ideas, the All About Women festival at the Sydney Opera House, and also to unsuspecting Uber drivers (sorry about that). Recently I spoke on a panel with the 2021 Australian of the Year Grace Tame and very nearly fangirled myself into oblivion. For the past two years, Stanford University has ranked me in the top 2% of researchers globally across all fields based on citations of my work (2020, 2021).


Prior to my career in academia, I published as “Emma Tom” and spent nearly 25 years working in the Australian print, broadcast, and electronic media, much of which was spent fielding burlesque electronic rape and death threats. Over the course of my working life, I have received multiple awards and prizes for my research, my teaching, my journalism, and my fiction. My contributions to helping solve the problem of gendered cyberhate have been commended by the NSW Parliament. One of my side hustles is translating academic findings into plain English and I've appeared as An Official Nerd in documentaries such as Cyberhate with Tara Moss (ABC iView), Is Australia Sexist? (SBS), and the award-winning #FatUglySlut (Kwassa Films, Belgium). 

Diagnosis Normal is my eleventh book. It's about the combined impact of child sexual abuse, mental illness, neurodivergence, and generally being a bit of a weirdo (normal people scare me). On the weekends, I make GIFs of my dogs, fool around with Excel macros, and read books about how to read books by Wittgenstein. A friend and I once used ones and zeros to build a random rape threat generator. Recently, I was  #SurprisedNotSurprised when I was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum.

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