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“Atlas of AI: Power, Politics, and the Planetary Costs of Artificial Intelligence” Receives ASIS&T 2022 Best Information Science Book of the Year Award 

The Association for Information Science & Technology (ASIS&T) is delighted to announce that “Atlas of AI: Power, Politics, and the Planetary Costs of Artificial Intelligence,” written by Kate Crawford and published by Yale University Press is the recipient of the ASIS&T Best Information Science Book Award for 2022. The award’s purpose is to recognize the outstanding book in information science published during the preceding calendar year. The award is given to the author(s) whose book is judged to have made the most outstanding contribution in the field of information science during the year.  

“Atlas of AI: Power, Politics, and the Planetary Costs of Artificial Intelligence” is the first comprehensive monograph to investigate the full social, political, and environmental costs of artificial intelligence. Based on over five years of research, it answers the question of how AI is made, in the fullest sense. It does this by taking the reader to the mines where raw minerals are harvested to build contemporary planetary computation’s infrastructure, to the Amazon factories where workers are surveilled and managed by algorithmic systems, to the laboratories where datasets are constructed by scraping the internet for images and text. The book shines new light on the usual representations of artificial intelligence as abstract and objective, to show how these systems are neither “artificial” nor “intelligent,” but profoundly political, embodied and material. Above all, the book is written to contribute to a wider public debate, as AI is already playing a role in the lives of billions of people. 

The book takes the reader on a journey through various sites of production around the world in order to show how the AI sector is an extractive industry. The eight chapters span domains where we can see the material and political workings of AI: Earth, Labor, Data, Classification, Affect, State, Power and Space. Drawing on disciplines including communication, computer science, information science, anthropology, science and technology studies, political economy, and law, the book offers a powerful account of how AI is driving a growing asymmetry of wealth and power. This speaks to a new understanding of AI --critically examining its role in social, economic, and geopolitical struggles. It also brings the reader out of the abstract domains of algorithms in the cloud and brings AI back to earth –showing its full material impacts, and how it is challenging core democratic practices around accountability, justice and due process. 

Kate Crawford is a Research Professor at USC Annenberg, a Senior Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research in New York, and the inaugural Visiting Chair for AI and Justice at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris.  Over her twenty-year career, she has published widely on the social, political, and ecological impacts of artificial intelligence and large-scale data systems. She leads the Knowing Machines Project, an international research collaboration focused on understanding the epistemic foundations of machine learning. She has also produced groundbreaking creative collaborations and visual investigations. Her project Anatomy of an AI System with Vladan Joler won the Beazley Design of the Year Award, and is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the V&A in London. Her collaboration with the artist Trevor Paglen, Excavating AI, won the Ayrton Prize from the British Society for the History of Science. Crawford's latest book, Atlas of AI: Power, Politics, and the Planetary Costs of Artificial Intelligence has been described as  “a fascinating history of data” by the New Yorker, as “trenchant” by the New York Review of Books, a “timely and urgent contribution” by Science. and named one of the best books in 2021 by the Financial Times and New Scientist. 

Upon learning of her book’s selection as the ASIS&T 2022 Best Information Science Book of the Year, Crawford said, “I'm honored to receive the ASIS&T book award, which has been given to many scholars that have influenced and inspired me over the years. I particularly want to acknowledge the work of the award committee as well as the wider Information Science field. I'm so grateful to be a part of this warm and welcoming community.” 

Crawford will receive her award at the 2022 Annual Meeting of the Association for Information Science & Technology (ASIS&T) which will be held October 29 - November 1, 2022 in Pittsburgh, Pa.