Towards accountability in data science

Critical AI & Data Justice in Society

Reflections on the session “Situating Big Data and AI in Societal Context”

Laura Uusitalo & Kaisla Kajava

The week’s readings included Situating methods in the magic of Big Data and AI by M.C. Elish and danah boyd, and 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.

The papers reflected on issues of accountability of actors involved in computing, big data, machine learning, and AI on both social and environmental fronts. The issues ranged from the environmental footprint of building smartphones and computers (particularly extractivism i.e. extracting natural resources such as lithium for smartphone batteries) and the cost of these actions to humans living near the extraction sites and those providing labour for the relevant industries, to how AI is presented to end-users as something “magical” that cannot be understood - and perhaps…

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