The Genie in the Bottle: Different Stakeholders, Different Interpretations of Machine Learning

Publication Type:

Conference Proceedings


Hawai'i International Conference on System Science, Wailea, HI (2020)


<p>Machine learning (ML) constitute an algorithmic phenomenon with some distinctive characteristics (e.g., being trained, probabilistic). Our understanding of such systems is limited when it comes to how these unique characteristics play out in organizational settings and what challenges different groups of users will face in working with them. We explore how people developing or using an ML system come to understand its capabilities and challenges. We draw on the social construction of technology tradition to frame our analysis of interviews and discussion board posts involving designers and users of a ML-supported citizen-science crowdsourcing project named Gravity Spy. Our findings reveal some of the challenges facing different relevant social groups. We find that groups with less interaction with the technology have their understanding. We find that the type of understandings achieved by groups having less interaction with the technology is shaped by outside influences rather than the specifics of the system and its role in the project. Notable, some users mistake human input for ML input. This initial understanding of how different participants understand and engage with ML point to challenges that need to be overcome to help participants deal with the opaque position ML often hold in a work system.</p>

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