An Artificial Revolution: On Power, Politics and AI (eBook)


Ivana Bartoletti
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‘Bartoletti demonstrates the potential for artificial intelligence to encode discrimination of all kinds into algorithmic patterns. Technology can improve our lives, but to harness all its positive potential, she rightly and powerfully insists on public accountability and scrutiny.’ David Lammy, Labour Party politician and MP for Tottenham

‘You can’t enter the 20s without reading this book. It hurls a log into the path of the thunderous express train of technology. Bartoletti cuts through the hype of AI and gets to the nub of the problem: data violence. It’s an angry book about the power politics of tech advancement where human rights and personal freedoms are mere collateral damage. Her feminist gaze is sharp on male technocrats using tech tools to manipulate and persuade politically. It is a tale of algorithmic injustice against women, ethnic minorities and people of colour. To say that it is thought provoking would be an underestimate. I am still reeling from its power.’ Noel Sharkey, Emeritus Professor of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics at the University of Sheffield and International Committee for Robot Arms Control

‘Bartoletti exhorts us at all times to bring our human intelligence to bear on the potentially dystopian power structures behind AI, writing with clarity, expertise and passion.’ Paul Mason, author of PostCapitalism: A Guide to Our Future

An Artificial Revolution

This book draws on my experience as a feminist and as a data and privacy leader, and on my many years in politics, working with governments, corporations, international organizations, coders, and policymakers about data, privacy and artificial intelligence (AI).

I have concluded that technological solutions will not address the urgent challenges that AI and big data are bringing to our world.

As a feminist, I feel the need to challenge the myth of ‘data neutrality’ and to interrogate the gendered power dynamics that underpin the AI debate. Data is a form of capital, and it behaves as such, replicating the dynamics and inequalities of capitalism. Data collection is in itself an act of choice and, this book will argue, of violence.

As a privacy leader, I see the concept of privacy as a collective good being undermined. Our lives are being invaded by AI-driven algorithms, which increasingly drive our decisions, our desires and our political opinions. We are losing both our spontaneous human individuality and our sense of community as news and information become increasingly atomized experiences.

As a politician, I know that as AI systems are increasingly endowed with agency, and algorithms are progressively replacing policy-making, we will need to ask fundamental questions about what purpose this is serving.

Along the way, I will ask why we don’t have an anti-AI movement like we have had an anti-nuclear movement. Without controls, oversight and international law, AI will be just as dangerous, and perhaps more so.

I must stress that this is not an anti-technology book – this is a book about technology and politics. I want people to understand that technology is not neutral. Technology is behind so much of the polarization and atomization of public life today, and technology itself won’t fix this. Only politics will.

Fiona Sharp, Independent Book Reviews, 21 June 2021: An Artificial Revolution

Burley Fisher Books, 25 November 2020: ‘Books of the Year 2020′

Alfie Rice for SODA, 11 November 2020: ‘An Interview with Ivana Bertoletti, Technical Director at Deloitte’

Oriana Medicott for Observer Research Foundation, 10 October 2020: ‘Modern democracy: Data, surveillance creep and more authoritarian regimes?’

Leading Edge Forum, 5 November 2020: ‘Technology is a distribution system for power: growing digital ethics in practice’

Intelligence Squared Podcast, 31 July 2020: ‘An Artificial Revolution, with Ivana Bartoletti and Yassmin Abdel-Magied’

DigiListen Podcast, 21 July 2020: ‘Tech Privacy and Ethics with Ivana Bartoletti’

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