SFB 1187 ›Medien der Kooperation‹ an der Universität Siegen
Ringvorlesung : „Learning (in) Digital Media“- Rainer Mühlhoff (Universität Osnabrück) : „Human-Aided Artificial Intelligence: Machinic capture of human labor in contemporary media culture“
Dienstag, 12. Oktober 2021, 18:00 - 20:00 Uhr

Die Ringvorlesung findet als hybride Veranstaltung mit Teilnahme vor Ort und online-Zugang statt. Der Zoom-Link für die Vorlesung wird rechtzeitig über die Mailingliste des SFB zur Verfügung gestellt. Gäste können sich per Mail bei Damaris Lehmann anmelden. Sende eine E-Mail


Artificial intelligence (AI), especially machine learning, structurally dependends on human participation. Technologies such as Deep Learning (DL) leverage networked media infrastructures and human-machine interaction designs to harness users to provide training and verification data. The current success of machine learning is based on a fundamental socio-technological transformation of the relationship between humans and machines. This transformation is driven by current trends in Human-Computer interaction design and perpetuated through digital media culture.

In the 1960s, the relationship between humans and AI was shaped by the idea of aspired resemblance between humans and machines. Machine intelligence referred to a machine imitating human cognitive skills such as chess playing or language comprehension. As I will argue in the talk, today, AI does not imitate human intelligence, neither does it replace human work. Rather, AI captures human cognitive, social and affective skills in hybrid human-machine apparatuses, which perform, as a whole, the resulting artificial intelligence. Contemporary machine learning systems thus rely on hidden forms of human participation orchestrated by digital media. This human participation is mostly unpaid and often not recognized as labor.

Relating to interface theory and critical media studies, I differentiate five types of “media technologies of capture” in AI apparatuses and analyze them as forms of power relations between humans and machines. Clickwork (e.g. Amazon Mechanical Turk) or Commercial Content Moderation are only two common forms of this kind of labor. Less well known forms include "social labor" on platforms such as Facebook, and "tracking and trapping" techniques of capture e.g. by Google Search. This talk is organized around examples to debunk the current hype of machine learning and discuss related forms of social control and discrimination of users.


Rainer Mühlhoff is a philosopher and mathematician and Professor of Ethics of Artificial Intelligence at the University of Osnabrück. His work focuses on ethics, social philosophy, and data protection in the context of digital media. In interdisciplinary collaborations, he brings together philosophy, media studies, and computer science to analyze the interplay of technology, power, and social change. More information: https://rainermuehlhoff.de/en/