Mapping Technology’s Reach: Anatomy of an AI System

‘Alexa, turn on the hall lights’

The cylinder springs into life. ‘OK.’ The room lights up….

This is an interaction with Amazon’s Echo device. 3 A brief command and a response is the most common form of engagement with this consumer voice-enabled AI device. But in this fleeting moment of interaction, a vast matrix of capacities is invoked: interlaced chains of resource extraction, human labor and algorithmic processing across networks of mining, logistics, distribution, prediction and optimization. The scale of this system is almost beyond human imagining. How can we begin to see it, to grasp its immensity and complexity as a connected form?

The graphic and passage above are excerpts from Kate Crawford and Vladan Joler, “Anatomy of an AI System: The Amazon Echo As An Anatomical Map of Human Labor, Data and Planetary Resources,” The AI Now Institute and SHARE Lab, (September 7, 2018)

In their stunning new work, which comprises both an essay and a vast infographic, Crawford and Joler strip away the smooth exterior of Amazon’s Echo to reveal the global network of human labor, data, and planetary resources that make this technology possible.

…invisible, hidden labor, outsourced or crowdsourced, hidden behind interfaces and camouflaged within algorithmic processes is now commonplace, particularly in the process of tagging and labeling thousands of hours of digital archives for the sake of feeding the neural networks.

Read the essay and see the infographic here.

‘Data Matters’ Goes Public!

Today marks the official public launch of Data Matters, a weekly online publication from the Center for Data Arts where you will now find weekly original postings.

With information technology being rapidly woven into every layer of modern life, influencing what we eat, how we learn, how wars are waged, and how our societies are governed, data has never mattered more than it does today. To shed light on data’s many crucial and disparate roles, Data Matters will embrace perspectives from journalism, science, humanities, and the arts, and we will publish pieces in multiple forms that include articles, essays, research papers, and experimental digital media.

Our goal is to make Data Matters a wide open platform for examining the fast changing data landscape from every angle, providing our audience with information and critical insight on this complex and fast-changing subject.

 

 

Maya Wiley on the Necessity of Data for All

“Today, high-speed internet access is a necessity and not a luxury,” said Maya Wiley last week at South by Southwest.

Millions of Americans lack broadband access and computer skills. 

In other news on the digital divide, A plan in New York state might offer a way toward connecting millions of Americans to a service that’s become nearly as important as electricity. Continue reading “Maya Wiley on the Necessity of Data for All”