Atlas of AI

Power, Politics, and the Planetary Costs of Artificial Intelligence

Hardcover, 288 pages

English language

Published Jan. 21, 2021 by Yale University Press.


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5 stars (4 reviews)

The hidden costs of artificial intelligence, from natural resources and labor to privacy, equality, and freedom

“Eloquent, clear and profound—this volume is a classic for our times. It draws our attention away from the bright shiny objects of the new colonialism through elucidating the social, material and political dimensions of Artificial Intelligence.”—Geoffrey C. Bowker, University of California, Irvine

What happens when artificial intelligence saturates political life and depletes the planet? How is AI shaping our understanding of ourselves and our societies? In this book Kate Crawford reveals how this planetary network is fueling a shift toward undemocratic governance and increased racial, gender, and economic inequality. Drawing on more than a decade of research, award‑winning science, and technology, Crawford reveals how AI is a technology of extraction: from the energy and minerals needed to build and sustain its infrastructure, to the exploited workers behind “automated” services, to the data AI collects …

2 editions

Undermining Artificial Intelligence

4 stars

Atlas of AI manages to dig deep into the systems and cost of Artificial Intelligence without ever overcomplicating the ideas for a general reader. Using contemporary feminist philosophy, Crawford compares extraction of minerals to extraction of data to extraction of labour, and concludes that a revised understanding of technology is needed.

One of the main arguments, which is very well developed throughout, places AI research by big tech companies in line with much eugenic and colonial thought systems, highlighting how they are embedding outdated and bigoted ideas in the underlying bias of supposedly neutral systems. Similarly, the colonial patterns of extractive human labour that are used to train such systems, and that provide the materials needed to operate them, are overlooked by most companies who develop or sell these systems.

A couple of small complaints: the last couple of chapters become a little journalistic and US-centric, and while Crawford hits …

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