Professor Andrew McStay

Professor in Technology & Society

Contact info

Name: Andrew McStay

Position: Professor of Technology & Society


Phone: +44 (0)1248 382740


Contact Info

Name: Andrew McStay

Position: Professor of Technology & Society


Phone: +44 (0)1248 382740




I am Director of the Emotional AI Lab at Bangor University where I also lecture on the social implications of emerging technologies. I advise widely on policy in this area, especially biometrics. My most recent book (with Vian Bakir) is Feeling-into the Civic Body: Disinformation, Optimisation, Solutions (Springer 2022). Forthcoming this year is Automating Empathy: When Technologies Claim to Feel-Into Everyday Life (OUP 2023).

Research interest keywords

Advertising, artificial intellifence, biometrics, emotional AI, empathy (automated), philosophy, politics

Administrative responsibilities:

  • Director of the Emotional AI Lab
  • Director of Impact and Engagement
  • Senate member

Teaching and Supervision

Current teaching:

AI Ethics (Year 2/3)

Privacy and the Media (Year 2/3) 

Digital Advertising (Year 2/3)

Introduction to Media, Journalism & Politics (Year 1)

PhD students:

  • Qi Qi. Citizen Journalism and Political Polarisation
  • Yiyang Zhao, Social Media and China's Networked Political Communication
  • Xin Zhao, China-related economic responsibilities: Understanding China’s soft power projection through a critical discourse analysis of its transnational media institutions
  • Dyfrig Jones, Convergence and Public Service Broadcasting in the UK, Ireland, and North Americ
  • Dita Legowo, Blurring Intimacy and Distance: An Online Webseries 
  • Aliah Nur Mansor, Marketing and Online Fan Communities 


Consultancy: Inter-governmental, Government and Industry

  • McStay, A. (2022-23) UK ICO’s Technology Advisory Panel member (biometrics)
  • McStay, A. & Urquhart, l. (2022) UK ICO Technology and Innovation Foresight on future of transport (invited contribution).
  • McStay, A. & Urquhart, l. (2022) UK ICO Technology and Innovation Foresight on biometrics (invited contribution).
  • McStay, A. & Rosner, G. (2022) Welsh Government Digital Ethics Report Applying digital ethics to government and public services.
  • McStay, A., Rosner, G., Miyashita, H. and Urquhart, l. (2020) Comment on Children’s Rights In Relation To Emotional AI And The Digital Environment for UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.
  • Bakir, V. and McStay, A. (2020) Inquiry into the Impact of Social Media on Elections & Electoral Administration, INVITED submission to the Electoral Matters Committee, Parliament of Victoria, Australia.
  • McStay cited/discussed in UNICEF (2020) Policy guidance on AI for children(input from McStay on Emotional AI) 
  • Bakir, V., & McStay, A. 2020.invited report, Inquiry into the Impact of Social Media on Elections & Electoral Administration, Electoral Matters Committee, Parliament of Victoria (Australia)  
  • McStay, A. and Rosner, G. (2020) Emotional AI and children: ethics, parents, governance (2020 Report).
  • AGAINST OPACITY, OUTRAGE & DECEPTION: Towards an ethical code of conduct for transparent, explainable, civil & informative digital political campaigns (House of Lords Select Committee on Democracy & Digital Technologies, 2019).
  • CULTURE CHANGE Incentivise political campaigners to run civil and informative election campaigns. (All-Party Parliamentary Group on Electoral Campaigning Transparency, 2019).
  • Centre for data ethics and innovation (2020) Snapshot Series: Facial Recognition Technology (interview input from mcstay)

  • Datafied Bearbaiting and Emotional AI: Anticipating the Quantified Jeremy Kyle Show (DCMS parliamentary inquiry into reality media, 2019)

  • Emotional AI and Insurance: Online Targeting and Bias in Algorithmic Decision Making (UK Government, Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation, 2019)
  • 2019 UK Government Center for Data Ethics and Innovation (advisor on facial recognition technology)  
  • 2019 Royal United Services Institute (UK Gov’ policing/defense think tank), workshop on shaping the state of machine learning algorithms within law enforcement  
  • 2019 Advising UK Government, Open Innovation Group, on online targeting  
  • 2019 Nexus Studio in AI ethics installation at London’s Barbican art centre  
  • 2019 Advertising Standards Authority, advisor on biometrics.  
  • 2019 CognitionX expert advisor
  • 2018 Report on The Right To Privacy In The Age Of Emotional AI (for The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights)
  • 2018 Invited participant: United Nations expert workshop on right to privacy in the digital age.
  • 2018 Invited witness at UK Parliament, DCMS Committee's oral evidence session on Fake News.
  • 2018 Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers Working Group voting member (P7000 on ethical design and P70002 on data privacy).
  • 2018 Expert input on Re-Work AI white paper on Ethical Implications of AI.
  • 2017 Report on Written Submissions On How To Combat Fake News (UK Parliament fake news inquiry).
  • 2017 Report: And then there’s Emotional AI (For House of Lords Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence.
  • 2017 Report: Fake News: Media Economics & Emotional Button-Pushing (UK Parliament fake news inquiry).
  • 2017 House of Parliament presentation on development of fake news and branded content.
  • 2016 Open Rights Group, academic advisor on data protection.
  • 2016-2018 Advisory Board Member for Sensing Feeling (a retail consortia project exploring Emotional AI).
  • 2015 UK Government, Office for Science, ‘Understanding Influence’ workshop/1000 word report.
  • 2015 Information Commissioner’s Office, advisor and member of the Policy Delivery department.
  • 2015 Committee of Advertising Practice, advisor on ethics of emotion-sensitive technology.
  • 2015 Internet Advertising Bureau (Europe), advisor on ethics in digital advertising.
  • 2015 By invitation, Expert Discussion on Adblocking, European Parliament, Brussels.
  • 2014-2015 Drive Productions (developing wearable technology for experiential marketing events).
  • 2014-2016 Voting Kantara Working Group member on developing digital consent receipts.

Consultancy: Academic

  • 2018: co-production of white paper to shape European Commission’s (EC) research agenda on the internet's impact on echo chambers, fake news and populism (H2020 framework and FP9). 
  • 2017-current: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) reviewer
  • 2016-current: Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Peer College member
  • 2017-current: External Examiner, Goldsmiths (Univ. of London), MA Advertising & Promotional Culture
  • 2016-2017: MSA (Egypt)/Univ. of Bedfordshire, BA Mass Comms, Advertising & PR
  • 2014-current: External Examiner: Falmouth University, BA Creative Advertising
  • 2012-2015: External Examiner: Middlesex Univ., MSc Media Management
  • 2013-current: International Assessor: Research Foundation Flanders.


Journals: New Media & Society (Editor), Big Data & Society (Guest Editor), Theory, Culture & Society, Digital Journalism, International Journal of Communication, Journal of Cultural Economy, Telematics and Informatics, Social Science Computer Review, Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers Communications, Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI).

Subject Associations: Association of Internet Researchers, International Association for Media and Communication Research.

Book publishers: Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, Emerald, Continuum, Routledge, Sage and Palgrave MacMillan.

Funders: AHRC (panel member), ESRC, EPSRC (as privacy expert), Research Foundation Flanders.


Invited presentations/keynotes:

Empathic Technologies: Landscape, Ethics, Citizens(2020) Emotion AI Conference, New York.

Empathic Technologies: Mediated emotion during COVID-19 (and after)(2020)A Global Digital Publics Network (GDPN) event in collaboration with the Emotional AI Lab,  the network for Media & Persuasive Communication, Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalization and the Fame and Persona Research Consortium.

Regulating Disinformation in Context of Modulated Emotion(2020) Sussex Centre for Information Governance Research.

A Principled Approach to the Emotion Economy (With Pamela Pavliscak) (2020) SxSW, Austin, USA.

Emotional AI and empathic technologies: RIGHTS, CHILDREN AND DOMESTICATION (2020 Panlel organisiser/moderator CPDP, BRUSSELS, BELGIUM.

The Rise of Empathic Technologies (2019) EURA Center of Excellence Regulation of Robotics and Artificial Intelligence, Pisa, Italy.

Ethics fatigue? Emotional AI, citizen perspectives & implications for MarTech (2019) Social & Emotion AI for Industry (held in conjunction with the  International Conference on Affective Computing and Intelligent Interaction)

Emotional AI, ethics and workplace automation (2019) CIPD: Festival of Work, Haymarket Media, London. 

Challenges of the (post)digital age (izazovi (post)digitalnog doba) (2019), Belgrade, Serbia. 

Spilling into the city: AI and advertising (2019/forthcoming) Goldsmiths, University of London.

Emotiveillance: Smart Advertising, Retail and the Privacy Problem (2019) Liverpool Screen School, LMJU, UK.

Intimacy in the Age of Artificial Intelligence (2018) Grounded Festival, Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Emotional AI: Nature, Form, Ethics,Governance (2018) Pratt Institute, New York.

AI and Creative Practice (2018) Bond University, Queensland, Australia.

Intimacy and the Civic Body: Emotional AI and the City (2018) Information Law and Policy Centre, London.

All Smiles? Emotional AI, Ethics, Industry Views & Citizen Perspectives (2018), Re-Work summit on Machine Learning, AI & Digital Assistants, San Francisco, USA.

Understanding the Significance of Emotional AI and Empathic Media (2018), New Lines of (In)Sight, CRISP, University of Stirling.

Emotional AI: Ethics, Citizens and Ubiquitous Feeling-Into (2017), Re-Work global summiton AI & Digital Assistants, London, UK.

Fake News & Digital Advertising(2017), House of Commons, UK Parliament, London.

Some Context to Branded Content & Advertising (2017). Theorising Branded Content, Univ. of East London.

Empathic Media: The Case of Advertising (2017), CPDP, Brussels.

Some Context to Branded Content and Advertising (2017), keynote, Theorising Branded Content, University of East London.

Empathic Media and Advertising (2016), keynote, The Future of Advertising, University of the Arts, LCC.

Researching Empathic Media: Corporate Access, Methods and Ethics (2016), University of Sheffield.

Empathic Media: In the Workplace (2016), Society for Computers and Law, 11KBW.

McStay, A. (2016) Empathic Media: The Case of Gaming, Stanford University.

McStay, A. and Bakir, V. (2016) Veillant Media: ‘Veillant Panoptic Assemblage’ and ‘Emotiveillance, University of Toronto.

McStay, A. (2016) Empathic Media project Intimacy, consent and tracking emotions in public, Digital Catapult, London UK.

Bakir, V. & McStay (2015). Forced Transparency or Equivellant Transparency, post-Snowden (or who is challenging the state’s surveillance agenda of radical transparency? Media, Agenda Building, National Security and Forced Transparency. For DATA-PSST! ESRC Seminar series. Brunel University, 8 July 2015.

Bakir, V. & A.McStay. (2015). Invited speakers: Debating and Assessing Transparency Arrangements: Privacy, Security, Surveillance, Trust (DATA-PSST!): evaluating perspectives on surveillance in the post-Snowden leak era. Surveillance and Citizenship State-Media-Citizen Relations After the Snowden Leaks. Cardiff University, UK. ESRC-sponsored. 18-19 June 2015.

What of Consent in an Age of Empathic Media (2015) Meaningful Consent workshop, University of Southampton.

Privacy as Affective Protocol (2015) DATAPSST!, University of Sheffield.

Towards an Understanding of Emotional Analytics (2014) Marketing Communications Society, University of Greenwich, London

Exploring the Pharmacology of Empathic Media (2014) Centre for the Study of Science and Imagination, University of Westminster, London.

Sensational creativity in advertising (2014) Media and Culture Research Seminars, Institute of Art and Design, Birmingham City University.

Redefining the Object of Critique: Creative Advertising as an Event (2013) International Communication Association (ICA), London,

Rethinking Advertising: From Being to Becoming (2012) For Your Eyes Only: Privacy, Empowerment and Technology in the Context of Social Networks, Brussels, Belguim.

I Consent: Search, Privacy, Behavioural Advertising and the Cookie Directive (2012) Leuven Arenberg Doctoral School Training Programme, University of Leuven, Belgium.

Exploring the Cultural Contours of Digital Advertising (2010) The Media Studies Conference, British Film Institute (BFI), London.

Towards an autopoietic conception of behavioural advertising audiences (2010) Media, Culture and Journalism Research Seminars, University of Glamorgan.

Exploring Audiences in Web 2.0 (2008) Media Research: New Issues, Perspectives and Methods, Institute of Art and Design, Birmingham City University.


2020 Innovate UK.Taking Back Control of Our Personal Data: An ethical impact assessment of personal data storage apps;’ (PI)

2020 UKRI-Japan Science & Technology Joint Call on AI & Society ‘Emotional AI in Cities: Cross Cultural Lessons from UK & Japan on Designing for An Ethical Life’ (PI).

2019:EPSRC/HDI+ Rights of Childhood: Affective Computing and Data Protection’ (PI)

2018 ESRC-AHRC UK-Japan SSH Connections 'Emotional AI: Comparative Considerations for UK and Japan across Commercial, Political and Security Sectors' (PI)

2018: ESRC ‘Emotional AI: Developing Ethics, Standards and Governance’ (PI)

2016: The Space (Veillance), Awards from The Space + Arts Council Wales (CI)

2015: Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)​, 'Empathic Media: Theory-Building and Knowledge-Exchange with Industry, Regulators and NGOs' (PI)

2014: ESRC Research Seminar Competition, 'DATA - PSST! Debating and Assessing Transparency Arrangements - Privacy, Security, Surveillance, Trust' (CI)

2014: Strategic Insight Programme (SIP), ‘Advertising in Wales’ (PI)


2019: William Evans Fellowship, University of Otago in New Zealand.


-       Aura (2019): Academic advisor & co-producer, McStay. Lead artist,Ronan Devlin. Based on McStay’s emotional AI work, this is been shown in Leeds, Salford, Lancaster and London (Canary Wharf). Approx. 100,000 in-person views.

-       Veillance (2017): Team McStay, Ronan Devlin (lead artist), Vian Bakir (academic), Ant Dickinson (sound), Carwyn Edwards (software), Michael Flückiger (graphics) and Gillian Jein (academic).

Media appearances and public engagement:

  • Interviews: MIT tech Review, Buzzfeed, Scientific American, The Sun, New York Post, The Guardian, The Register, ABC Radio (Australia), Studio City for RTV Slovenija, Canal+ (France), BBC Futures (USA), BBC Radio 4, BBC Wales, BBC Worldwide to discuss technology. Writing for industry outlets includes: Information Week, Information Age, WPP, ESOMAR, Privacy & Business Law and The Conversation. Documentary appearances: ‘Drawing the Line’ (Sensum) on emotional AI, ‘Political Economy of Media’ (Sage), and ‘Advertising’ (Lambert Productions).

  • Journalism: I write for The Conversation on matters involving advertising, technology and privacy. All articles available here. I have have also written for Sparksheet/WPP, an advertising industry publication. See here.

  • Salon: invited discussion member at Privacy, Protection, Publicity: Does your Freedom have Boundaries? Dialogue, Shoreditch, London.

Teaching awards:

  • Learning & Teaching Award (2008) from HEFCE/TQEF recognising excellence in teaching and learning support.
  • Learning & Teaching Award (2007) from HEFCE/TQEF recognising excellence in teaching and learning support.


Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers; International Communication Association; Media, Communications & Cultural Studies Association; Association of Internet Researchers; International Association for Media & Communication Research; Authors’ Licensing & Collecting Society; Personal Data Trust Network (Digital Catapult).


Various lapsed blogs can be found online, but I'm active on Twitter @digi-ad.

Postgraduate Project Opportunities

Proposals for PhD-level projects in the areas of emotions and technology, digital advertising, digital media, science and techbnology studies, data ethics and privacy all welcome.

Research outputs (52)

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Prof. activities and awards (38)

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