Map highlighting environmental impact of voice assistants wins design prize

By Sherna Noah, PA Senior Entertainment Correspondent

A map which highlights the environmental impact of owning a voice assistant device has scooped a design award.

Anatomy Of An AI System explores the amount of human labour, data and resources required during the lifespan of just one device.

Beazley Design Of The Year award judges said “you will never look at your smart home hub the same way again”.

Anatomy Of An AI System (Kate Crawford and Vladan Joler/PA)

Using Amazon Echo as an example, the work features a visual diagram illustrating the global impact of an AI device across its lifetime.

Created by Kate Crawford and Vladan Joler, it highlights the “environmental effects of extracting rare earth metals and the wide disparity in workers’ income, to the data that these devices can gather without the users’ knowledge”.

Chair of the judges Paul Thompson, vice-chancellor of the Royal College of Art, said: “AI is such a prevailing feature of the future of technology, it seemed the perfect moment to analyse its impact, which this project does.

The Gacha Self-driving Shuttle Bus (MUJI and Sensible 4/PA)

“In the future when you purchase a piece of digital hardware, it could have the ingredients listed.

“This project shows how this might look and makes everyone who sees it think about all the unseen impact of tech hardware.”

(Adidas Originals by Ji Won Choi Designers (Ji Won Choi in collaboration with Adidas/PA)

Other category winners include a self-driving bus for all weather conditions, Korean-influenced sportswear, and a low-cost HIV detector.

A full scale display of the winner’s work will go on show at the Design Museum, in London, until February.