Manufacturing an Artificial Intelligence Revolution

21 Pages Posted: 30 Nov 2017

See all articles by Yarden Katz

Yarden Katz

Harvard Medical School; Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society

Date Written: November 27, 2017

Abstract

While the term "Artificial Intelligence" (AI) was coined in the 1950s, in recent years AI has become a focus of attention in mainstream media. Yet the forces behind AI's revival have been unclear. I argue here that the "AI" label has been rebranded to promote a contested vision of world governance through big data. Major tech companies have played a key role in the rebranding, partly by hiring academics that work on big data (which has been effectively relabeled "AI") and helping to create the sense that super-human AI is imminent. However, I argue that the latest AI systems are premised on an old behaviorist view of intelligence that's far from encompassing human thought. In practice, the confusion around AI's capacities serves as a pretext for imposing more metrics upon human endeavors and advancing traditional neoliberal policies. The revived AI, like its predecessors, seeks intelligence with a "view from nowhere" (disregarding race, gender and class)---which can also be used to mask institutional power in visions of AI-based governance. Ultimately, AI's rebranding showcases how corporate interests can rapidly reconfigure academic fields. It also brings to light how a nebulous technical term (AI) may be exploited for political gain.

Suggested Citation

Katz, Yarden, Manufacturing an Artificial Intelligence Revolution (November 27, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3078224 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3078224

Yarden Katz (Contact Author)

Harvard Medical School ( email )

25 Shattuck St
Boston, MA 02115
United States

HOME PAGE: http://yarden.github.io

Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society ( email )

Harvard Law School
23 Everett, 2nd Floor
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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