The Future Is Here!

Ọnụọha, Mimi

The Future Is Here! is a new commission from artist and researcher Mimi Onuoha which examines the process of dataset creation.

In order to extract value from information, tech companies and researchers increasingly employ machine learning. This process requires huge quantities of data which have been labelled and tagged according to specific criteria. For example, in the case of machine vision, these systems have to be fed with massive quantities of manually annotated photographs to be able to identify patterns.

This 'human work’ is usually crowdsourced through companies such as Mechanical Turk or Figure Eight who employ huge numbers of globally distributed workers who are paid small amounts to annotate the datasets that companies upload to their platforms. Without this tagging, labelling, and annotation work, the bulk of machine learning as it unfolds today would simply not be possible.

Consisting of a series of images and stylised interpretations of the spaces where top contributors on Figure Eight carry out their work, The Future Is Here! teases out the myth and reality of the labour behind machine learning.