"As Kate Crawford's trenchant Atlas of AI demonstrates again and again, artificial intelligence does not come to us as a deux ex machina but, rather, through a number of dehumanizing extractive practices, of which most of us are unaware."
—Sue Halpern, The New York Review of Books
"A sweeping view of artificial intelligence that frames the technology as a collection of empires, decisions, and actions that are together fast eliminating possibilities of sustainable future on a global scale. … A timely and urgent contribution."
—Michael Spezio, Science
"A fascinating history of the data on which machine-learning systems are trained."
—The New Yorker
In Atlas of AI: Power, Politics, and the Planetary Costs of Artificial Intelligence Crawford reveals how the global networks underpinning AI technology are damaging the environment, entrenching inequality, and fueling a shift toward undemocratic governance. She takes us on a journey through the mining sites, factories, and vast data collections needed to make AI "work" — powerfully revealing where they are failing us and what should be done. Atlas of AI was named one of the best books on technology in 2021 by the Financial Times.
While technical systems present a veneer of objectivity and neutrality, Crawford shows how they are designed to serve and intensify existing systems of power. Drawing on a decade of original research, she shows how the new infrastructures of AI reflect the beliefs and perspectives of a small group of people and serve the interests of the few at the expense of the many.
"Exposes the dark side of AI's success. … Meticulously researched and superbly written."
—Virginia Dignum, Nature
"Crawford argues passionately that while AI is presented as disembodied, objective and inevitable, it is material, biased and subject to our own outlooks and ideologies."
—David A. Shaywitz, Wall Street Journal
"[A] fascinating book…"
—John Naughton, The Guardian
"A valuable corrective to much of the hype surrounding AI and a useful instruction manual for the future. … Crawford creates a strong framework to understand the dangers of this technological revolution as well as its environmental costs and suggests how we can best steer it towards more positive outcomes."
—John Thornhill, Financial Times
"Her close-up, vivid descriptions of the earth and labor AI is built on, and the deeply problematic histories behind it, make it impossible to continue speaking about the technology purely in the abstract."
—Karen Hao, MIT Tech Review
"Eloquent, clear and profound — this volume is a classic for our times. It draws our attention away from the bright shiny objects of the new colonialism through elucidating the social, material and political dimensions of Artificial Intelligence."
—Geoffrey C. Bowker, University of California, Irvine
"Eloquent and revelatory…. Crawford limns the dire stakes of unbridled technological expansion. Methodologically original and keenly intelligent, Atlas of AI is an indispensable map of the present that boldly calls readers to chart a more just and sustainable future."
—Alondra Nelson, President of the Social Science Research Council
"A must read. Moving from lithium mines to data extraction, from labor exploitation to government surveillance, Atlas of AI eloquently reveals how intelligence is 'made.' It displaces anemic calls for 'ethics' with probing investigations into the environmental degradation, capital accumulation, and labor conditions that AI makes possible."
—Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, Canada 150 Chair in New Media, SFU
"Artificial intelligence seems to haunt the world like a ghost in our machines. But as Kate Crawford shows in her vivid, unnerving book, this amalgam of algorithms, data, hardware is anything but immaterial. Atlas of AI is an outstanding contribution: the ghost of AI made visible."
—Peter Galison, author of Einstein's Clocks
"By brilliantly tracing the history, mythology, ethics, and politics of artificial intelligence, Atlas of AI reminds us that the stories we tell about AI are just as vital as the mathematical models that comprise these systems."
—Ruha Benjamin, author of Race After Technology
"Whether you're a devoted researcher, an AI practitioner, or a general reader concerned about the growing power of data, this is an eye-opening tour of the planetary resources, laboring bodies, and relations of power that travel under the sign of AI, lending the empire of data its unsustainable life."
—Lucy Suchman, author of Human-Machine Reconfigurations
"From the extraction of labor, latex, and lithium to the politics of proxies and Palantir, Atlas of AI is a rigorous interrogation of the power relations that reproduce AI, and a necessary mapping of its very limits. This is an essential book."
—Simone Browne, author of Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness
"Kate Crawford looks at artificial intelligence with a humanist's eye and an artist's sense of what really matters. If you think AI is all about big data and machine learning, this marvelous book will remind you: it's about the natural world, and politics, and history, and sometimes, even beauty too."
—Fred Turner, author of The Democratic Surround