Promotionsprogramm "Transformationsprozesse in Europäischen Gesellschaften"

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Libuše Hannah Vepřek

Libuše Hannah Vepřek, M.A.

2nd Year


Institute of European Ethnology
Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich
Oettingenstr. 67
80538 Munich

Phone: +49 (0) 89 2180 9635

Further Information

Dissertation Project

"The Human in the Loop:
Cultural Anthropological Perspectives on the Human Subject in Human Computation Systems and Changing Perceptions of Work and Play" (working title)

Today, algorithms are found to outperform humans in various fields, with their memory, speed and accuracy far exceeding human abilities in incomparable manners. However, algorithms still fail on many comparatively basic problems that are easily solved by humans. Within the realm of human computation, an emerging research area in computer science, Human Computation Systems (HCS) rely on humans and algorithms at the same time to tackle problems that neither of them can easily solve on their own by delegating particular computational steps or tasks to humans.
HCS warrant both new collaborations and role allocations between humans and computers. In my doctoral project I plan to investigate these interrelations to better understand the role human subjects play, while also focusing on how different actors – developers, users, and interested parties – ascribe meaning to these systems. This will also inform the understanding of how HCS impact our perception of work and play in everyday life.
It will be necessary to interrogate the interactions and mutual dependencies of producers, users and non-humans to gain insights into the implications and “soft impacts” (Swierstra 2015) of HCS on society. The planned multi-perspectival ethnographic study is focused not only on meanings, connotations and perceptions of HCS, but also on the material and design aspects that play a role. Through participant observation and in-depth interviews, the research project will concentrate on the daily application and forms of use.
By combining the perspectives of cultural anthropology and computer science this project aims at gaining an in-depth understanding of HCS and their implications on everyday life which is crucial to steer the systems and developments in directions we prefer.

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Johannes Moser