Anatomy of an AI System – The Amazon Echo as an anatomical map of human labor, data and planetary resources. By Kate Crawford and Vladan Joler (2018)
Kate Crawford and Vladan Joler have created a powerful infographic and web site, Anatomy of an AI System. The dark illustration and site are an essay that starts with the Amazon Echo and then sketches out the global anatomy of this apparently simple AI appliance. They do this by looking at where the materials come from, where the labour comes from (and goes), and the underlying infrastructure.
Put simply: each small moment of convenience – be it answering a question, turning on a light, or playing a song – requires a vast planetary network, fueled by the extraction of non-renewable materials, labor, and data.
The essay/visualization is a powerful example of how we can learn by critically examining the technologies around us.
Just as the Greek chimera was a mythological animal that was part lion, goat, snake and monster, the Echo user is simultaneously a consumer, a resource, a worker, and a product.
I have long been interested in Jacques Bertin, a pioneer in thinking about visualization. His Semiology of Graphics is a classic. I had been thinking it would be great to try or simulate his way of doing cluster analysis with physical matrices which he called “dominos”. I was therefore pleased to see that someone has recreated his matrices, see DIY Matrix.
Update: They also have a web application called Bertifier that allows you to try it virtually. This interactive allows you to choose different ways of decorating the blocks and will then also reorder them. It is fascinating to play with.
Now I have something I want to print on a fabricator.
Sean pointed me to a video (abvoe) explaining the working of a real Turing Machine built by Mike Davey in Wisconsin. It is worth noting that Turing didn’t (to my knowledge) every try to make the machine he described for theoretical purposes. Also worth noting (as is clear in the video) is that there are actually 3 settings for each position: nothing, 0 or 1.