The pervasiveness of artificial intelligence in our contemporary world is undeniable. With a rapidly sprawling number of use-cases cutting across domains such as healthcare, agriculture, transport, finance and art, to name a just a few – AI systems are transforming our relationship with technology, and with ourselves.
Yet, despite its ubiquity, AI continues to evade definition. This is in part due to the ‘black-boxed’ nature of AI, obscured by layers of complex algorithms and opaque data pipelines, and human choices, that make it difficult to understand how decisions are made, and who or what is responsible for those outcomes. But, in part, the abstruseness of AI is also due to scales at which it operates.
Much of the AI we see today, operates on a vast planetary scale, as a complex socio-technological assemblage connecting people, objects, institutions, material resources, data and labour. Seen within this context, techno-scientific definitions of AI as the quest for intelligence, or as Marvin Minsky put it “the science of making machines do things that would require intelligence if done by men”, often fall short of capturing the social, material, institutional and ethical dimensions of AI.
In this blog series, we aim to take a critical “AI+” approach, moving beyond the technical logic of AI to explore its various dimensions, and situatedness within diverse worlds. Rather than define AI, this blog series aims to ‘describe’ AI – through an exploration of “very densely textured facts” (Clifford Geertz, 1973). If AI is not merely code, and instead a composite system – what is it composed of? What new worlds, potential futures, relations of power, institutional systems and interpersonal dynamics does AI engender? What cultural frameworks, idioms of expressions, and modalities of practice do people adopt to make sense of AI?
Through a series of monthly blog pieces, we explore how AI is shaping and is shaped by existing and emerging social realities. Stay tuned to read all the upcoming blogs through which we aim to foster critical dialogue on the social dimensions of AI.