Interactive cross-media production shows ‘invisible labor’ of artificial intelligence – Santa Cruz Sentinel

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An unusual interactive cross-media production will be livestreamed through April 3 with UC Santa Cruz Professor Marianne Weems as its director.

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UC Santa Cruz Professor Marianne Weems

Called “I Agree to the Terms,” the performance was developed by The Builders Association and New York University (www.NYUSkirball.com ) as well as by Amazon Mechanical Turk (www.MTurk.com ), a crowdsourcing website for businesses owned and operated by Amazon.

Weems is the artistic director and founder of UCSC’s performance and media ensemble (The Builders Association), and she also leads Future Stages, a two-year master’s program in digital arts and “new media” that explores expanding basic theatrical relationships in new and culturally relevant ways.

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“MTurk workers are primarily Americans living in rural area where jobs are scarce,” Weems explained. They earn between $1 and $100 a day in an industry that is basically unregulated. Their assignments are repetitive, boring, maddening and sometimes disturbing.

“I Agree to the Terms” shows the “invisible labor” of these workers who shape a company’s artificial intelligence.

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“The internet was once seen as an innovation with the potential of bringing communities together, but instead has become a largely isolating world,” she added.

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During the performance, audience members enter the online “Builders Marketplace” and, with help from a crowd-worker, they to complete as many “Human Intelligence Tasks” as possible during a 45-minute period. Each person is timed, rated and eventually given “payment” in virtual “Builders Coin.”

“This is an opportunity to connect with an online labor force and to feature the humans in the loop of our everyday virtual encounters,” Weems explained.

Weems, who has been teaching at UCSC since 2017, leads a program called “Future Stages,” a two-year search group leading to a master’s of fine arts in digital arts and new media.

Several of Weems students from UCSC’s Future Stages/Digital Arts and New Media MFA Program assisted in the development of “I Agree to the Terms.” They are Michael Becker, Dave Crellin, Rey Cordova and Erin Single.

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UCSC department chair and professor Michael Chemers credits Weems with having a huge impact on the development of the new department of performance, play and design.  “As one of the country’s most celebrated and innovative directors of experimental theater, she has a long history of uniting live performance with digital technology,” he acknowledged.

Tickets for “I Agree to the Terms” are $15 and can be purchased at www.NYUSkirball.com. Performances are at 2 and 5 p.m.

For more information, visit www.iagreetotheterms.com.



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