Monique Verdin, “Ghost Forest : Pointe-aux-Chênes : Lost Treasure Map” (2022), digital assemblage. Photograph taken in 2011; United States Geological Survey map, Terrebonne Bay, 1983.

An AI Society

Artificial intelligence is reshaping society, but human forces shape AI. Getting governance wrong could mean narrowing cultural narratives, de-incentivizing creativity, and exploiting workers. In these 11 essays, social scientists and humanities experts explore how to harness the interaction between AI and society, revealing urgent avenues for research and policy.

Generative AI Is a Crisis for Copyright Law

Generative AI is destabilizing the foundational concepts of copyright law as it was originally conceived, creating an unprecedented moment in creative production: a stream of works without any legally recognizable author. For many artists and designers whose work is being used to train AI systems, this feels like an existential threat. The billions of works produced by generative AI are unowned and can be used anywhere, by anyone, for any purpose.Read More

How does our understanding of the value of human creativity change when it is increasingly mediated by technology, be it the pen, paintbrush, Photoshop, or DALL-E?

How Generative AI Endangers Cultural Narratives

If generative artificial intelligence—and its cultural biases—spreads unchecked, it will likely homogenize content into the patterns of the largely American content used to train AI systems, resulting in the loss of diverse cultural narratives and heritage.Read More

AI Aids the Pretense of Military “Precision”

There are enormous questions regarding the validity of the assumptions built into artificial intelligence systems about who comprises an imminent threat and about the legitimacy of their targeting functions under the Geneva Conventions and the laws of war.Read More

Protect Information Systems to Preserve Attention

For democracy to function, people need to pay attention to matters of public import. In an information environment swamped with automatically generated content, attention becomes the scarce resource.Read More

Ground Truths Are Human Constructions

Understanding how computer scientists use “ground-truthing” in the development of artificial intelligence systems can reveal inherent limitations of algorithms and catalyze more thoughtful regulationRead More

To Reckon with Generative AI, Make It a Public Problem

All members of society should reject the assertions of technology companies and AI “godfathers” who claim that generative AI is both an existential threat and a problem that only technologists can manage. Public problems are collectively debated, accounted for, and managed.Read More

The portrayal of AI’s history is usually one of progress, where constellations of algorithms attain humanlike general intelligence and creativity. But that narrative might be more accurately inverted with a shrinking definition of intelligence that excludes many human capabilities.

How AI Sets Limits for Human Aspiration

The narratives trumpeting AI’s progress obscure an underlying logic requiring that everything be translated into the technology’s terms. If it is not addressed, that hegemonic logic will continue to narrow viewpoints, hamper human aspirations, and foreclose possible futures.Read More

History Can Help Us Chart AI’s Future

The perpetual expansion of data-driven machine learning should not be seen as a foregone conclusion. Instead of defaulting to tactics that augment machine learning, we need to consider that in some circumstances the very logic of machine learning might be fundamentally unsuitable to our aims.Read More

AI Lacks Ethic Checks for Human Experimentation

Today, social media and generative artificial intelligence are constantly experimenting on human subjects, but without institutional checks to prevent harm. Read More

Needed: Ways for Citizens to Sound the Alarm About AI’s Societal Impacts

Plans for regulating artificial intelligence focus on laying out guardrails for anticipated threats without establishing an early warning system for citizens’ actual experiences or concerns.Read More
AMY KARLE, AI Coral Bioforms, 2023

The Question Isn’t Asset or Threat; It’s Oversight

Whether generative AI is seen as a technological revolution or not, it is always embedded within a wider set of values. And the solution is oversight of the corporations building AI.Read More

These articles arose from a working group on AI and Justice convened by Kate Crawford at the École Normale Supérieure. The collection appeared in the Winter 2024 Issues.


Art by Amy Karle.