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Map showing the impact of an AI device named best design of 2019
The Design Museum names infographic and research project ‘Anatomy of an AI System’ by Kate Crawford and Vladan Joler as the Beazley Design of the Year 2019.

LONDON.- Anatomy of an AI System, a research project and infographic map that brings to life the real-world consequences of voice assistants, has been named by the Design Museum as the overall winner of the Beazley Designs of the Year 2019 and the Digital Category.

Have you ever wondered how your voice assistant is made, and the impact it can have on our planet? Taking the Amazon Echo as an example, the project includes a visual diagram illustrating the global impact of an AI device across its lifetime. It investigates the three main parts required to build and operate a voice assistant – from the environmental effects of extracting rare earth metals and the wide disparity in workers’ income, to the data that these devices can gather without the users’ knowledge.

Some of the key information highlighted by designers, Kate Crawford of AI Now Institute and Vladan Joler, includes the disparity in wages between a CEO from the industry, earning up to $275 million US dollars a day to a child miner, who would need to work approximately 700,000 years to earn the same amount (as documented by Amnesty International)*. The project questions whether the convenience provided by these devices is worth their social and environmental consequences.

Dr. Paul Thompson, Chairman of the 2019 Judges and Vice-Chancellor, Royal College of Art said: ‘AI is such a prevailing feature of the future of technology it seemed the perfect moment to analyse its impact, which this project does. In the future, when you purchase a piece of digital hardware it could have the ingredients listed. This project shows how this might look and makes everyone who sees it think about all the unseen impact of tech hardware. You will never look at your smart home hub the same way again.’

Deyan Sudjic, Co-Director, Design Museum said: It’s wonderful to be able to celebrate the winners of the 2019 Beazley Designs of the Year, at the same time as we prepare to welcome our two millionth visitor to the Kensington museum. The Beazley Designs of the Y ear exhibition brings to the forefront the most revealing, intriguing and exciting new design from around the world and is a vital part of the museum’s programme. It is what makes us the world’s most visited museum of contemporary design and architecture.

The large-scale Anatomy of an AI System map is included in the exhibition.

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