[Looking Back] Antonio’s Casilli keynote with Panoptiwork

Last month, we brought the first year of our project to a successful closure with a mind-opening presentation by Pr. dr. Antonio Casilli and an interdisciplinary panel discussion that followed it. Find below the recap of the talk by Jelle Posthuma, and the link to the lecture’s recording:

Who are the driving human forces behind artificial intelligence? This question was central to last week’s lecture ‘How Artificial Intelligence fosters Global Inequalities’ in the House of Connections from the University of Groningen.

Invited as keynote speaker was Antonio A. Casilli, professor of sociology at the Institut Polytechnique de Paris. His compelling talk made it clear that AI, like for example ChatGPT, is not possible without millions of human ‘click workers’ or ‘data workers’. While vital for ‘training’ artificial intelligence, these invisible labourers often work in deplorable conditions.

The professor and his team examined the labour conditions and social and demographic profiles of data workers in low-, middle- and high-income countries. In his lecture, Casilli elaborated on the case studies in France, Madagascar, Venezuela and Brazil. For each country, he gave interesting insights on the working conditions and profiles of ‘click workers’. Using these examples, he also focused on the ‘supply chain’ of artificial intelligence, which often goes back to historical and existing dependencies between countries.

Casilli’s talk was followed by a barrage of questions from fellow researchers including Beryl ter Haar, Seonok Lee, Tatiana Llaguno Nieves, George Azzopardi, Femke Cnossen and Wike Been. It became clear that the peer researchers had listened to Casilli’s story with great interest. In their questions, the researchers touched on various topics, such as labour law, the situation in South Korea, the positive aspects of human ‘click workers’, supply chains, the difference between urban and rural areas, inequality, the self-image of ‘click workers’ and labour market trends. Afterwards, the professor managed to answer the questions flawlessly, although some of the researchers had to wait for their answers until the drinks, given the limited time.

Watch the lecture here 👇

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