Michiel Baas

C.V. | Current Project | Publications


Research Interests
India, Sri Lanka Artificial Intelligence Gender, Sexuality and the Body Migration and Transnationalism

Research Area(s)
India, Bangalore, Sri Lanka, Colombo

Departmental Activities
Working Groups: Lived Utopias | Science and Universality
Research Topic: Techno-optimism

Profile

I am an urban anthropologist whose work also draws inspiration from sociology, cultural studies, and science & technology studies. My research project ‘Craitivity: Towards an Anthropology of Artificial Intelligence’ aims to develop an anthropology of artificial intelligence (AI). It uses ‘AI-technologies’ as a shorthand for a number of interlinked technological innovations, ranging from big data and machine learning to the use/development of algorithms and the actual employment of nascent AI-technology. Considering the overwhelming tech-driven approach to AI-technologies, their funding through transnationally operating companies, and the underlying physics, what scope does this field offer in terms of human-centered creativity?

The project focuses on three groups who each in their own way develop, engage with, and resist AI-technologies:
1. Programmers/developers employed with tech-companies;
2. Artists who engage with AI-technologies in creative ways;
3. Activists who push-back against the way AI-technologies are utilized.

The project is specifically interested in furthering the development of the study of anthropology itself. Increasingly the factor of technology cannot be ignored in the way it challenges previously held beliefs and acts (semi-autonomous) of what would shape lives otherwise (socially and culturally). While in theory AI-driven technologies appear to function at a level of abstraction removed from cultural and social convictions, in practice it has been found that these technologies are revealing for societal biases. Anthropology offers the tools to interrogate this in an important and meaningful way.

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