An autonomous research institute under the Ministry of Finance




Critique of and Alternatives to the Extractive Imagination of AI

  • Speaker Dr. Anupam Guha
  • Speaker profile
    Anupam Guha is a computer scientist, working on Artificial Intelligence and Computational Linguistics based in the US east coast with a PhD from the University of Maryland (batch of 2017) and a MS from Georgia Tech (batch of 2010).
    He is deeply interested in and does outreach on the future Social, Political, and Economic implications of AI, especially both its oppressive and emancipatory potentials for labour. Dr. Guha advocates a better understanding of the political-economy of the fully automated future. He sees the question of AI intricately woven with the question of future labour, i.e. the student community. Thus, he engages in critical solidarity with progressive Indian student politics. Dr. Guha does advocacy for an increased communication between silos of academia, science informed policy, politics informed science, and supports free, universal, and quality higher education. As parts of his outreach efforts he has written non-academic pieces in Hindustan Times, Indian Express, and on the issues of AI, Labour, and the Politics of Science.
  • Date Tue, 15 January, 2019
  • Time 04:30 PM - 06:00 PM
  • Venue Conference Room, Ground Floor, R&T Building, NIPFP
  • Abstract
    The imminence of artificial intelligence has been accompanied by a narrative of inevitability in social relations based on premises which have not been critically interrogated. Companies are selling “AI solutions” to problems where neither what constitutes AI nor whether these problems are technological in nature is debated as fiercely as it should, if only to prevent unforeseen consequences. These premises do not question the extractive nature of current social relations and thus imagine AI in the role of accelerant and property and not much else. This lack of political imagination has potentially dire consequences of furthering inequity, baking in precarity, and freezing structural oppression, perhaps even causing regression. Even the critique of AI policy in a sense accepts these premises and focuses on bias and transparency of systems as they are used now, rather than power and ownership, both legitimising solutionism and diverting the blame for what are sociological problems onto technology. 
    Considering the oppressive and the emancipatory potential of AI systems it becomes our task to critique both the social relations it is premised on and provide an alternative imagination for AI which explores the nature of work and property in the era of automation. My talk will go into (in the Indian context) the limitations of current policy thought when it comes to AI, a critique of band aid measures being presented like UBI and robot taxes, and an exploration of the premises, especially the nature of data as property, current policy is being written on. My talk will then present an alternative imagination for labour in relation to AI, of work, wage, and public prosperity, and thus a framework for what is to be done.
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