Kate Crawford interview: How AI is exploiting persons and the planet

ARTIFICIAL intelligence is everywhere these days, from the Alexa va in your kitchen to the algorithms that choose your suitability for employment or a home loan. But what exactly could it be? This is matters because to a great extent it dictates how we consider AI’s impact.

If AI is a thing that outperforms humans by definition, it seems logical to trust it to identify people who should be stopped and searched via facial recognition, say, or to make judgements which offenders should get probation. If it is solely about algorithms, it becomes a whole lot better to sweep aside issues of bias and injustice as mere technical issues.

Kate Crawford requires a broader view. Co-founder of the AI Now Institute at NY University and a researcher at Microsoft Research and the école Normale Supérieure in Paris, she’s spent the very best part of two decades investigating the political and social implications of AI. In her new book, Atlas of AI , she also looks at the global infrastructure that underpins the rise of the technology.

She argues that AI, definately not being something abstract and objective, is both material and intrinsically associated with power structures. Just how it is made involves extracting resources from people and the planet, and just how it is employed reflects the beliefs and biases of these who wield it. Only when we come to terms with this, says Crawford, will we have the ability to chart a just and sustainable future with AI.

Timothy Revell: What is AI?

Kate Crawford: I believe of it in 3 ways. Technically speaking, it is an ecosystem …

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