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Future Economies Reading Group

May 2021: AI and Labor

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This month our reading selection and group conversation will be facilitated by member Monika Viktorova.

Our lives are shaped by social relations, not algorithms, but the rise of AI algorithms has the potential to radically alter our society's relations of production. Our workplaces, our governments, and even the face of the planet itself are impacted by the use of AI.

AI companies have tended towards massive conglomeration. If you use an AI-powered device, odds are it was created by one of the big five. Its models were almost certainly trained on one of the three major cloud hosts. But it's important for us to tease apart what is new about AI-powered economies and what is the same old capitalism. Capital tended towards monopolization before AI, but the the process of concentration has been accelerated by the investment of the billions necessary to capture massive dataflows used to train AI and to finance the construction of AI training datacenters.

What does it mean to be a tech worker? Isn't someone who works beside robots everyday, who works with the implements of technology, a tech worker? What is the potential for cross-industry solidarity between desk workers and the logistics workers whose workflows are managed and optimized by AI algorithms?

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