Grasping AI systems

Together with Mikko Dufva, I have started working on a project that handles the disconnect between the sophisticated digital systems and the experience of them. In particular, we focus on the new artificial intelligence systems that are being brought into many fields of society -including education.

This research project is a continuation from our article “Grasping the Future of Digital Society” that introduced the concept of digi-grasping and our view of embodied digitality. That article is accepted to the Futures-journal and will soon be published. However, below is our abstract and slides from Fera-conference on education, held at Tampere, Finland last week.


The software industry is increasingly introducing machine learning and artificial intelligence to new sectors of society, with the claim of boosting the effectiveness and improving the quality of existing services. In education, new “AI systems” are introduced to do educational analytics and help in giving students better and more individual education. However, what is often ignored in this frenzy to digitalise is the embodied experience of using these new services and more generally the influence of the ubiquity of digital technologies. Digitalisation and its consequences are challenging to understand because digital processes are abstract and difficult to grasp, which may easily lead to a detached sense of digital surroundings. We argue that in order to grasp the nature and future of a digitalised education, an embodied understanding of digitalisation is needed. We use the concept of ‘digi-grasping’ to analyse our awareness and involvement in the digital world. By digi-grasping we mean active sense-making and existing in the world that consists of both a digital and a physical world. We argue that through ‘grasping’ the digital world it is possible to create an ethical and aesthetic attachment to society. This helps in broadening the discussion for instance from which AI system should be preferred to what role should AI play in our society and in whose interests is it to promote the inevitability of digitalisation. Digi-grasping can empower people to understand and question the choices and motivations behind current digital structures and to evaluate future paths in education better.