Noon Talk with Dr. Johann Laux


The global surge in AI applications is transforming industries, leading to displacement and complementation of existing jobs, while also giving rise to new employment opportunities. Data annotation is a new occupation that provides valuable human input to the labelling of datasets. As the quality of a dataset directly influences the quality of AI models trained on it, the efficiency of data annotation work stands as an important competitive advantage for AI developers. This talk delves into the foundational economics of data annotation, with a specific focus on the impact of norm design (that is, the choice between rules and standards as theorised in law and economics) and monetary incentives on data quality and costs. It reports findings of an experiment with 307 data annotators which underscore the trade-off between data quality and efficiency in data annotation, shedding light on the nuanced impact of norm design and incentives on the economics of AI development. After all, the findings support arguments made for improving the work conditions of data annotators by providing them with information-rich work instructions and higher pay.


Johann Laux is a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford. He studies the legal, social, and economic implications of emerging technologies such as AI and Big Data. Before joining Oxford, Johann was an Emile Noël Fellow at New York University’s School of Law and a Program Affiliate with the Digital Welfare State and Human Rights Project at New York University’s School of Law.

Johann graduated from the London School of Economics and Political Science with a degree in Governance and from the University of Hamburg with degrees in Law. He earned a PhD in Law at the University of Hamburg, researching the institutional design of courts with mechanisms of collective intelligence. Johann studied Philosophy at King’s College London and was a Visiting Researcher at UC Berkeley, School of Law.

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The talk will take place on Monday, July 15th, 13:00 CEST.

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