Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationNew York, Baruch College, City U. of
Grant numberGr. 9614
Approve DateApril 13, 2018
Project TitleMoss, Emanuel D., City U. of New York, Graduate Center, NY - To aid research on 'The Objective Function: Science and Society in the Age of Machine Intelligence,' supervised by Dr. Karen Strassler
EMANUEL MOSS, then a graduate student at the City University of New York Graduate Center, New York, New York, was awarded funding in July 2018 to support research on “The Objective Function: Science and Society in the Age of Machine Intelligence,” supervised by Dr. Karen Strassler. This project examined the ethical, organizational, and ideological responses of data scientists, and their collaborators, to the shifts in the production of knowledge and intellectual labor represented by artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies. Based on fieldwork in a New York machine learning lab and in corporate Silicon Valley settings, this research revealed that while machine learning technologies are commonly seen as ostensibly neutral or objective, capable of being integrated into existing engineering frameworks and product development processes, they nevertheless produce persistently unruly effects that challenge the technical forms of expertise held by their producers. These challenges to expertise produce numerous controversies, mediated through an elaborate set of corporate, legal, critical, and technical discourses and implicate deeply held and contentions positionings around normative values like fairness, justice, equity, responsibility, and dignity. These controversies have subsequently begun to reshape many of the existing institutional processes that structure how data is collected and used for these technologies, in industry and beyond.