I like that the "Anatomy of an AI System" piece starts with a very relatable anecdote. I think the title can be quite intimidating and opening with a scene everyone is mostly familiar with (my friends and I just spent an entire Friday night playing with an Alexa and its Spotify capabilities 😝) is a great way to draw a wide audience, in terms of interest and skill-level, into the relevant topic (I ponder about the accessibility of computational topics to the layperson often).
My first thought was that this should be read by everyone that owns an Alexa—and then I realized that's unrealistic for the average consumer (I don't think I would read it when I bought one). However, I think the format—a video of this, in particular, would be much more efficacious in its message.
The title is also still throwing me off a bit—I'm not exactly interested in reading it based off it, but if it brought in something subversive about the Alexa, I think that would be more intriguing.
Overall, I feel this is a really interesting take on AI. The topic is broken down in a way that links humans to the technology more so than other AI readings (I took a class on Ethics in Computer Science in college, so I've dove into a decent amount with an ethical lens). It feels grounded in social, historical (such as the story of the Jesuit polymath, Athanasius Kircher), and international context. The use of the word anatomy adds a chilling human-like nature to the voice assistant itself, even though the signs of that should have been more obvious to me before reading this piece. Descriptions
A little separated from the rest of the commentary here, I thought this statement was particularly chilling:
"Like a pharaoh of ancient Egypt, he stands at the top of the largest pyramid of AI value extraction."
It's almost scary to compare the leader of these unbelievably massive companies as monarchs—it adds a whole new, questionable side to capitalism.
While I did take a class on Ethics in Computer Science, I'm curious what point-of-view this article on AI and the Alexa is being written in—is it philosophical? Historical? Both?
I think I've spoken about this in class before, but another thought-provoking topic mentioned in the article is the advent of a new form of colonialism, where large companies are monopolizing and controlling internet access is less-developed places. Using a quote from Vandana Shiva, "Now it is the turn of biodiversity and knowledge to be 'enclosed' through intellectual property rights (IPRs)."
The article I chose from the footnotes I chose was from The Guardian about the Royal Free breaching a UK data law called the Data Protection Act in a deal with Google's DeepMind. The app created from the partnership continued to test after patient data was transferred. In this case, culpability on using real data for testing fell on Royal Free rather than DeepMind since they were the data controller.