In the article Anatomy of AI System the authors, Kate Crawford and Vladan Joier, are tracing the processes involved in the creation of digital devices. The authors are addressing the birth, life and death of those devices connected with the natural and human resources needed and involved in the process. The authors illustrate these processes by giving detail account of inner workings of the Amazon Echo and its artificial agent Alexa.
The three requirements needed to operate and AI – “material resources, human labor and data“(part 4) are connected with the lifespan (birth, life and death) of those devices. All digital devices require chemicals and materials which are produced in the natural environment in the spam of billions of years. Yet the lifespan of digital devices is less than a decade. In the process of obtaining those chemicals and materials another processes are employed – human exploitation, intimidation, child labor. Further, Amazon has not been transparent regarding several elements connected with the Echo. They are not disclosing how the Echo works, what larger clout system is connected to, and what information does it collect. This is very important omission, because the Echo is designed to analyze, learn and improve its AI algorithm based on the user's knowledge and interactions with the device. This makes the Echo “a consumer, a resource, a worker, and a product” (part 6). Amazon is also not disclosing the environment footprint their servers have on ecology. These AI system's connected with multinational corporations are known to have huge demand for energy and impact on the environment. The example Crawford and Joier give to illustrate this point is with the demand for latex produced by palaquium gutta tree trunks in the late 19th century. This demand for latex, which was used for electrical insulator, lead to the complete exhaustion of to the eventual extinction of the palaquium gutta tree.