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Brainbox is a public interest think tank and consultancy sitting at the intersection of technology, law, and policy. 

Bringing together deep thinking, broad networks, and world-class expertise, Brainbox has rapidly established a global profile as a leader in this area.


Founded in 2018, organisations across the private and public sectors worldwide have relied on our knowledge, insight, and professionalism.

Brainbox analysts and affiliates are accomplished media commentators and presenters. Our analysts are regular participants at a range of public policy events, and their work has been published or covered in Lawfare, the Guardian, Stuff, Newshub, the New Zealand Herald, Newstalk ZB, RNZ, Newsroom, Business Desk, TVNZ, and the Project.

We work together with clients to figure out what they need to know, give them the answer, and help them leverage it to meet their objectives.

> Our Team

Tom Barraclough


Tom co-founded the Brainbox Institute in 2018 and graduated BA/LLB(Hons) from the University of Otago. When he began his career in 2014, he initially focused on human rights and medico-legal systems, contributing to peer-reviewed publications and nationally significant research on access to justice and accessibility for disabled people. Since 2018, Tom has spearheaded public interest legal research projects, as well as advising both public and private clients on intricate public policy issues at the intersection of law and technology. Tom has a special interest in human rights approaches to platform regulation and combating disinformation, as well as how to build digital systems to better give effect to public policy objectives, including through partner venture Syncopate Lab.

Allyn Robins
AI Lead, Senior Consultant

Allyn guides the organisation's synthetic media and AI-focused initiatives, and remains a key part of many other projects. Prior to starting with Brainbox he worked as an intelligence analyst at the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, where he founded the Emerging Technologies portfolio and played a key role in coordinating efforts to allow New Zealand to navigate an increasingly technologically sophisticated world. He is a highly sought-after expert, offering insightful commentary for leading media outlets like Newshub, Stuff, and Lawfare. Allyn holds a Master’s degree in Physics and Bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy and Theatre, which has been a more useful combination than you might think.

Ximena Smith
Communications Lead, Senior Consultant

Ximena brings a decade of experience in media and communications to her current role as Communications Lead at the Brainbox Institute. She spearheads the organisation’s media strategy and is actively engaged in tech policy research, particularly in media literacy education and content regulation. Ximena's journalism experience spans Radio New Zealand, Māori Television, and 95bFM, with publications in VICE, Stuff, The New Zealand Herald, and Newsroom. In addition to her media roles, she has taken on communication roles in the non-profit sector. Ximena holds a Bachelor's Degree and a First Class Master's Degree in Communication Studies from AUT.

Chris McGavin

Chris joined Brainbox after completing a Master of Laws at Victoria University of Wellington examining the ethics of artificial intelligence and the implications of the European Union's proposed Artificial Intelligence act both generally and for New Zealand. Chris also brings a strong commercial acumen having worked across multiple areas from content production to business development at Seequent and LawVu, in addition to a background working in commercial, property and employment law. He has a longstanding interest in the implications of technology and how best to leverage it for good, as well as using literature and critical theory to better understand it, stemming from his BA in English and Cultural Studies. Chris has developed a special interest in education and skill acquisition and development through his sport coaching practices.

> Our Purpose

Technology, law and policy are powerful systems, and they can be even more powerful when they interact. 


When carefully designed, these systems have the potential to support human flourishing and change the world for the better.


But they can also be clumsy, confusing, and, at worst, cause great harm.

We want a world where technology, law and policy work for people, not against them.

> Our Mission

We are a public interest think tank and consultancy sitting at the intersection of technology, law, and policy. 


Public and private sector clients approach us with problems that live in this intersection, and we provide them with the right questions, the right answers, and the tools to use them. 


We are independent, pragmatic thinkers, and we believe in the power of sharing knowledge for the benefit of the public.

> Our Values

Human Dignity

Systems are nothing without people, and creating effective systems requires strong, respectful relationships and collaboration. A commitment to human dignity and flourishing is front of mind in everything we do and how we operate as an organisation. 

Creative & Entrepreneurial

We are nimble and flexible in a way that many other similar organisations aspire to be. We can zoom out and connect the dots, and pivot rapidly when necessary. We think creatively, holistically, and pragmatically. 

Critical Thinking

We strive to look beyond ideology, hype, and rhetoric.  We take pride in recognising – and saying – when we or others are asking the wrong question. We always aim to tell the truth as we see it, not just say what people want to hear. 

Diversity and Heterogeneity

A variety of ideas and viewpoints are better than groupthink, and we always prefer productive disagreement to negotiate differences, rather than bad faith debate.


Our solutions are designed to work with or without our ongoing involvement, and we will never undermine a project’s goals to make more work for ourselves in the future. 

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