Anatomy of an AI System, fierce materiality


The visualisation of data and processes is usually associated with the clarifying of concepts, enhancing crucial parts. And we praise both the computational power of our machines, and their hardware facilities including the connection, the hi-res displays, or the anthropomorphic AI interfaces. But we’ve lost even a general feeling of what they mean from a material perspective. ‘Anatomy of an AI System’ by K. Crawford and V. Joler is a splendid exemplification of the Amazon Echo as “an anatomical map of human labour, data and planetary resources”. In the 3 sections of a b/w pdf, they show the device’s “birth, life and death”. It’s an enlightening diagram, painstakingly compiled, and universally understandable. It precisely and symbolically depicts its fierce materiality, epitomising how critical digital art should be.