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Kate Crawford in conversation with Toby Walsh

Artificial intelligence (AI) is hard to see – but it’s already being built into the infrastructure of our core institutions, from education, business, healthcare, hiring, to the work of government itself. 

Dr Kate Crawford of the AI Now Institute, and co-creator of Anatomy of an AI System sat down with Toby Walsh, Scientia Professor of AI, UNSW Sydney to discuss how AI systems are already radically changing the way businesses, governments, and individuals interact with one another. Addressing the far-reaching consequences of AI – social, environmental, economic, and political – is increasingly urgent. 

“At this moment in the 21st century, we see a new form of extractivism that is well underway: one that reaches into the furthest corners of the biosphere and the deepest layers of human cognitive and affective being. Many of the assumptions about human life made by machine learning systems are narrow, normative and laden with error. Yet these assumptions are being inscribed into a new world, and will increasingly play a role in how opportunities, wealth, and knowledge are distributed.”
– Kate Crawford and Vladan Joler, Anatomy of an AI System

AI has become a new extractive industry.  One that is reaching into the furthest corners of the biosphere and the deepest layers of human cognition and culture.

Kate Crawford

If you take a company like Facebook, and actually regulated it so it behaved well, would there be anything left?

Toby Walsh


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Photo credit: Prudence Upton

This talk is a part of the UNSW Grand Challenge: Living with 21st Century Technology.

Kate Crawford portrait

Kate Crawford

Kate Crawford is a leading academic researcher who has spent over a decade studying the social and political implications of artificial intelligence (AI) and algorithmic systems. Her prior work has drawn attention to the ways that AI systems can produce biased and discriminatory decisions. She is currently writing a new book that reframes the understanding of AI in the wider context of history, politics, labour, and the environment. Kate is a Distinguished Research Professor at New York University, where she co-founded the AI Now Institute – the world’s first university institute dedicated to the broader social impacts of AI. She is also a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research, and an honorary professor at the UNSW Sydney. Her research has appeared in Nature, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, and Harper’s Magazine. She has advised policy makers at the United Nations, the European Union, and she has participated in AI policy processes for the French, German and Argentinian governments. In 2018, Kate was awarded the Richard von Weizsäcker Fellowship in Germany, and she currently serves on France’s 3IA scientific advisory jury. Her forthcoming book will be published by Yale University Press in 2020.

Toby Walsh

Toby Walsh

Toby Walsh is Chief Scientist of UNSW.AI, UNSW Sydney’s new AI Institute. He is a strong advocate for limits to ensure AI is used to improve our lives, having spoken at the UN and to heads of state, parliamentary bodies, company boards and many others on this topic. This advocacy has led to him being "banned indefinitely" from Russia. He is a Fellow of the Australia Academy of Science and was named on the international "Who's Who in AI" list of influencers. He has written four books on AI for a general audience, the most recent is Faking It! Artificial Intelligence in a Human World.

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