Automated Expertise? Artificial intelligence and algorithmic systems as inter-professional work practices

Artificial intelligence and predictive algorithms for expert assessments, prioritisation and decision-making are currently introduced in a range of public services, and policymakers throughout the Global North are investing heavily in them. Such AI systems build on a combination of large data sources and advanced machine learning algorithms. Emerging AI applications for public services do, however, not only rely on machine learning algorithms, neural networks and various mathematical optimisation techniques to make inferences, predictions and recommendations, but also on the implementation of AI systems in complex organisational settings. When AI applications are implemented in organisational settings, they do not simply replace other forms of expertise and professional norms: They coexist with existing forms of expertise and professional norms and values. This implies a redistribution and reconceptualisation of expertise and a reconfiguration of the AI systems in larger organisational and sociotechnical settings.

Maja Hojer Bruun is Associate Professor at the Department of Educational Anthropology, Aarhus University where she leads the research program Future Technology, Culture and Learning. She is also convenor of the Danish Research Network for the Anthropology of Technology (AnTech). Her research centres on emerging digital technologies, spanning robots, drones, data infrastructures, algorithmic systems and artificial intelligence. In her recent research project, she explored forms of knowledge, organisation and governance through which cities are turned into living labs and sites of experimentation. In 2023 she starts up the research project “Automated Expertise? Artificial intelligence and algorithmic systems as inter-professional work practices” that compares the development of AI applications for expert assessment in three ethnographic case studies of public services within health, education and urban planning. She edited the Palgrave Handbook of the Anthropology of Technology (2022).

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