Beth Semel, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Anthropology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
What does it mean for machines to listen? What kind of listeners do the people who build artificial intelligence–enabled machines train them to be? After all, Amazon’s Alexa is only “listening” in the same way that she is a “she.” Drawing from extended ethnographic fieldwork with psychiatric and engineering professionals in the United States, Beth Semel argues that the concept of machine listening is both a powerful and strategically vague analogy that articulates taken-for-granted assumptions about human listening and the speaking subject. While listening technologies are central to contemporary debates about ethics and automation, Semel’s examination of the behind-the-screen labor through which a set of such technologies is assembled reveals their entanglement with deeper histories and political economies of engineering, speech science, and care work in the United States.
This event is free and open to the public. The presentation will take place in the Eric S. Dobkin Boardroom on the SAR campus. Advanced registration is encouraged.