Kate CrawfordMar 21, 2022
The Atlas of AI
Power, Politics, and the Planetary Costs of Artificial Intelligence
Yale University Press 2021
What happens when artificial intelligence saturates political life and depletes the planet? How is AI shaping our understanding of ourselves and our societies? In The Atlas of AI: Power, Politics, and the Planetary Costs of Artificial Intelligence (Yale University Press, 2021), Kate Crawford reveals how this planetary network is fuelling 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 from us.
Rather than taking a narrow focus on code and algorithms, Crawford offers us a political and a material perspective on what it takes to make artificial intelligence and where it goes wrong. While technical systems present a veneer of objectivity, they are always systems of power. This is an urgent account of what is at stake as technology companies use artificial intelligence to reshape the world.
Matthew Jordan is a university instructor, funk musician, and clear writing enthusiast. He studies the history of science and technology, driven by the belief that we must understand the past in order to improve the future.