Yan Cong

The People behind Automation
Location: Beijing
Nationality: China
Biography: Yan Cong (b.1991) is an independent photographer based in Beijing, where she was born and raised. She focuses most of her long-term projects on women’s issues, rural China, and China’s relations with its neighbors.  In 2015, Yan was... read on
Public Story
The People behind Automation
Credits: yan cong
Date of Work: 10/31/18 - 11/01/18
Updated: 08/17/19
Archived as: 
From iPhone’s Face ID to Deep Fake, AI technologies are so closely connected with imagery, yet too abstract to photograph. When I visited data labeling factories on assignment for The New York Times, I found this job fascinating, and the assignment evolved into a personal project.

China is developing and applying Artificial Intelligence technologies faster than any other countries in the world. To help machines to make sense of the world, cheap labors are hired to label almost everything, from pens to traffic lights, from walking pedestrians to spare parts on assembly lines. The workers call themselves the “construction workers in the digital world,” in a New York Times story. By putting data labeling workers and the screen they look at side by side, this project aims to present the contrast of human and machine, and to explore the irony of machine learning and automation: what roles do we play in this increasingly automated world?

By Yan Cong —

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