Our bi-monthly DiPLab online seminar will welcome Minna Ruckenstein (University of Helinski) for a session titled “Friction in data labour – prisoners training artificial intelligence

The seminar will be held in hybrid form, both at Telecom Paris and online on the platform Big Blue Button. To receive the link, please register by sending an email with your full name and affiliation at: contact@diplab.eu.

Friction in data labour – prisoners training artificial intelligence

In this talk, I use the notion of friction (Tsing 2005) to examine human data labour that keeps AI-based automation running. I will discuss an unconventional case of data labour: Finnish prisoners producing training data for a local artificial intelligence company. At first glance, prison data labour is ‘ghost work’ – now a recognized form of low paid click work. In light of friction, however, we are dealing with the local and situational variations of data labour: how high-tech development can be married with humane penal policies and rehabilitative aspirations. The Finnish data labour case highlights how the notion of friction aids in uncovering contradictory value aims and opening novel ways of exploring processes of automation.

Minna Ruckenstein is Associate Professor, Centre for Consumer Society Research, University of Helsinki. Her work deals with everyday and organisational aspects of datafication, in fields ranging from content moderation and advertising to digital health and insurance. She directs an interdisciplinary group of PhD candidates and post-docs, with funded projects focusing on rehumanising automated decision-making, algorithmic culture, and everyday engagements with algorithmic systems in Helsinki and in Shanghai and Hangzhou.