FHI & CMAC Virtual Talk: Resisting AI: An Anti-fascist Approach to Artificial Intelligence

Dan McQuillan, Ph.D.
NOTE: This is a virtual talk; audience members are welcome to connect from their own device --or-- convene in Smith Warehouse @ 11:45am for lunch prior to lecture at noon.

Dan McQuillan, Ph.D.
Department of Computing
Goldsmiths, University of London

April 29, 2024
12:00pm - 1:30pm
Smith Warehouse, Bay 4, C104

Zoom link:  https://duke.zoom.us/j/95819270796

In this talk I will discuss ideas from my book Resisting AI and how they're playing out in the era of generative AI. In the first half of the talk I'll focus on demystifying AI and how its computations link directly to collateral damage and algorithmic violence, and I'll outline AI's arc towards necropolitics. I will also review the precaristising effects of generative AI, the latter's role as a kind of 'shock doctrine', and the intensifying environmental impact from datacentres that are switching to gen-AI. In the second half of the talk I'll attempt a radical reworking of the underlying concepts from feminist and decolonial perspectives. I'll link this post-machinic learning to mechanisms of change such as a workers' and people's councils, and will make the case for an anti-fascist stance towards sociotechnical restructuring. The talk will conclude by arguing strongly for resistance to the real threats of AI while rejecting p(doom) fantasies about malevolent superintelligence. Above all, I will attempt to motivate the need for a prefigurative technopolitics that changes our social and technical arrangements at the same time, in line with visions for alternative and sustainable societies.

After earning a Ph.D in Experimental Particle Physics, Dan worked with people learning disabilities and mental health issues, created websites with asylum seekers, ran social innovation camps in Georgia, Armenia & Kyrgyzstan, led a citizen science project in Kosova, and worked in digital roles in both Amnesty International and the NHS. He is now a Lecturer in Creative and Social Computing. In 2022 he authored the book 'Resisting AI - An Anti-fascist Approach to Artificial Intelligence' and is currently AI co-lead for the ESRC-funded Centre for Sociodigital Futures.

Organizers:  The Critical Machine Learning Studies Working Group
Co-Sponsors:  Franklin Humanities Institute (FHI) and the Computational Media, Arts & Cultures (CMAC) PhD program