Note — Dec 12, 2021

The Myth of Artificial Intelligence

Meredith Whittaker and Lucy Suchman taking a flamethrower to the new book propaganda by Henry A. Kissinger, Eric Schmidt, and Daniel Huttenlocher, The Age of AI: And Our Human Future. To be honest, looks like it’s pretty much shooting fish in a barrel for someone on the (rightly) critical side of AI but still a good read if you need a reminder of everything that’s wrong with Big Tech’s AI, or to contemplate the quasi-mystical zeal of the Schmidt crowd.

so-called “advances” in AI celebrated over the last decade are primarily the product of significantly concentrated data and computing resources that reside in the hands of a few large tech corporations like Amazon, Facebook, and Google. At the same time, AI technologies are increasingly shown to be brittle, systemically biased, and applied in ways that exacerbate racialized inequality. […]

It presents AI as an entity, as superhuman, and as inevitable—while erasing a history of scholarship and critique of AI technologies that demonstrates their limits and inherent risks, the irreducible labor required to sustain them, and the financial incentives of tech companies that produce and profit from them. […]

The reader is offered a false portrait of AI, described as a fundamental break in human history, one auguring a new epoch involving “the alteration of human identity and the human experience of reality at a level not experienced since the dawn of the modern age.” We are told that AI’s “functioning portends progress toward the essence of things—progress that philosophers, theologians, and scientists have sought for millennia.”