Scale and the Gaze of a Machine

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Scale suffuses the work we do and, recently, has us considering an aspect of scale best suited to those with ethnographic training. We've been asked to help with scaling up one of the latest blockbusters in high tech – deep learning. Advances in deep learning have enabled technology to be programmed to not only see who we are by using facial ID systems and hear what we say by using natural language systems; machines are now even programmed to recognize what we do with vision-based activity recognition. However, machines often define the objects of their gaze at the wrong scale. Rather than “look for” people or objects, with deep learning, machines typically look for patterns at the smallest scale possible. In multiple projects, we've found that insights from anthropology are needed to inform both the scale and uses of these systems.

Keywords Deep Learning, Human Scale, Ethnographic Insights

Article citation: 2020 EPIC Proceedings pp 48–60, ISSN 1559-8918,

Pages: 1 2 3

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