Cadie Desbiens-Desmeules, born in 1985, is a Canadian media artist working between generative art and live performance. Her practice is either site-specific or installation-based, spanning multiple surfaces or immersive environments. Drawing on her background experience as a journalist, she casts a critical eye over technological trends with artworks that provokes thoughts and internal discussions around how we relate and engage with new technologies. Desbiens-Desmeules has presented her work worldwide, including digital art festivals and art galleries such as Arsenal Contemporary Art, the International Symposium for Electronic Art (ISEA) and TodaysArt. In 2019, We Are Europe (WAE) selected Desbiens-Desmeules as one of the 64 artists, speakers and public figures they consider the most inspiring European personalities. In 2021, her work was selected in the 5th International Digital Art Biennial (BIAN) alongside artists like Refik Anadol and Riochi Kurokawa. Desbiens-Desmeules is currently based in Lisbon, Portugal. She continues to be active as a creative director and visual artist as Push 1 stop, collaborating with top industry talent and agencies such as Silent Partners Studio, where she has been working for Riot Games, Beyonce, Jay-Z, BTS, Billie Eilish and Bruno Mars just to name a few.
Human-in-the-loop is part of I’m not a robot — a series of applications exploring the murky world of digital labour and human intelligence tasks. A captcha seems like a harmless annoyance to a user, but it’s a powerful and lucrative method of extracting free labour as we’ve collectively been training AI for free by solving Google’s reCAPTCHA puzzles for decades. To date, it’s estimated that Google has extracted $7.3 billion worth of free labour using this method. Machine learning is nothing on its own: it requires millions of hours of human work to train an algorithm before its “intelligence” is realised. For AI to identify something as a car, it first needs humans to identify thousands of car images. The humans behind this process are known as “crowdworkers” performing “microtasks” or “microwork”. Half of these online platform workers are earning less than $2 per hour, yet these micro actions have huge benefits for tech companies. Data labelling is the fuel that powers machine learning. Desbiens-Desmeules was inspired to mess with this process and generate images that are impossible to identify, even for humans. The artist fed thousands of images of cats to an AI model specialised in identifying cars. This tongue-in-cheek experiment resulted in absurd looking creatures that are neither cat nor car, yet somehow both at once. Desbiens-Desmeules then created a simulation of the Captcha challenge that asks users to identify either cats or cars, over and over and over… Regardless of the selections made, the application will continue to ask for more. The viewer is encouraged to click and click, offering an ever increasing amount of precious intelligence training for free.