University of Twente Student Theses


The Human Infrastructure of Artificial Intelligence

Mervich, C. (2020) The Human Infrastructure of Artificial Intelligence.

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Abstract:The contemporary data-driven paradigm of Artificial Intelligence (AI) envisions an automated future, where human functions will be less and less relevant for society due to the ubiquity of AI-based technologies. Such expectations are however contradicted by the large amount of invisible human labour involved in the process of data labelling and curation required today to develop and train machine-learning models which lie at the heart of AI technologies. In order to identify, explore and map the role of such a network of people which I define as human infrastructure, this thesis draws upon scholarship in the field of Critical Infrastructure Studies (STS). Building on the concept of “infrastructural inversion”, my thesis analyses the development of AI through the lens of the human infrastructure that underlies it. By doing so, it first identifies the mechanisms that make workers invisible. Second, it discusses ethical concerns with respect to workers’ labour conditions. Third, it highlights epistemological issues related to data processing. As a last step, it analyses how the involvement of humans actually shapes the development of AI systems. By adopting a human-centered approach, this thesis provides a critical view on many present-day conceptualizations of AI.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:08 philosophy
Programme:Philosophy of Science, Technology and Society MSc (60024)
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