Learning About the Machine: Exploring Crowdworker Experiences on Amazon Mechanical Turk

Joe Soonthornsawad, School of Information

Crowdworkers on Amazon Mechanical Turk, commonly known as ”Turkers”, are a source of invisible, often underpaid labor that helps train powerful AI models essential to the development of today’s most

spectacular technological innovations. Compensated in cents per task, the silent work of labeling images and flagging content takes place everywhere, and yet, the human stories behind the innovation remain largely invisible to the public. Who is the intelligence behind the artificial intelligence? The creation of this piece is informed by artistic processes that merge ethnography, documentary, and collaboration to explore social practices and labor. Through combining the artist with that of an ethnographer, a project facilitator, and a conductor, I seek to shape an artistic process that will help me understand the experiences of and co-create a video piece with Turkers. Through this collaboration, it is my goal to amplify the human stories of crowdwork and explore the relationship between human labor and technological progress.