10/19 Artificial Intelligence: The Technology of Extraction w/ Kate Crawford

October 19, 2021

Sam and Emma host Kate Crawford, Research Professor at the University of Southern California Annenberg, to discuss her recent book Atlas of AI: Power, Politics, and the Planetary Costs of Artificial Intelligence, on our relationship with big tech, and the concept of the AI industry as a continuation of the extractive practices and power dynamics in the workplace that we have been building for centuries. They start off with a discussion on how Professor Crawford got into AI, and how her perspective on it has changed, from the view of the industry as one defined by algorithmic capacity and data infrastructure to an industry of extraction and exploitation, jump-started by diving into the stages of production from lithium mines to Amazon fulfillment warehouses to labs. Getting into the abstraction and depoliticization of artificial intelligence, Professor Crawford explores how Big Tech has become perhaps the most concentrated industry since the railroads, hiding behind an ideology of technocratic utopianism that has built a fear of regulation, a consolidation of power, and a growing perspective that it is essential to our way of life. Next, she, Emma, and Sam dive into the relationship between AI and labor practices, looking at the hyper “efficiency” created by workplace algorithms (e.g. at Amazon warehouses) as a revolutionary progression of Frederick Taylor’s factory ideology, and exploring how this disembodied management serves to hamper organizing, particularly with the effect of the bias to believe technology. They then move onto the importance of highlighting the overlap of the surveillance state and corporate surveillance, this creation of a multi-headed hydra, and why the American public only sees the state as a threat, before expanding on the surveillance apparatus are already working to reinforce power structures that have exceeded regulation, looking particularly at the Police state and counter-terrorism measures. They wrap up the interview by discussing the future of regulation in the industry and the impact anti-trust measures could have (and why that won’t be enough). Sam and Emma read some Majority Reporter updates on the mass unionization efforts going on in the US, and discuss Manchin’s posturing with Bernie (physically).

And in the Fun Half: Nomiki Konst joins Sam and Emma as they cover the New York democratic machine getting blindsided by a democratic socialist woman of color taking on an established incumbent, inspiring Chuck Schumer to take a break from politics, Chris Leal for TX House District #114 gives some updates on his campaign, and the MR crew discusses the judgments of Meghan McCain in the workplace for simply acting the part she’s paid for. They also cover the silencing of Bari Weiss with her free airtime on CNN, Dan Bongino’s poor connection in the Glenn Greenwald telephone game, plus, your calls and IMs!

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