The supply chain capitalism of AI




On April 30, 6:30pm, Ana Valdivia, Lecturer in AI, govt & policy at the Oxford Internet Institute will speak LIVE in the Daryll Forde Room, 2nd Floor of UCL Anthro Dept, 14 Taviton St, WC1H 0BW. Everybody welcome and you can join on ZOOM (ID 384 186 2174 passcode Wawilak).

Ana writes: “Artificial Intelligence (AI) has woven into a supply chain of capital, resources and human labour that has been neglected in debates about the social impact of this technology. While the literature on critical AI studies have focused on algorithmic bias and opacity, the global production line that fosters AI innovation have drawn little attention. Building on Tsing’s concept of supply chain capitalism, this paper offers a journey through mines, semiconductor manufacturers, data centres, technological firms, data labelling factories and e-waste dumps by illustrating the complex, diverse, opaque and global structure of the supply chain of AI.

Then, the paper moves into illuminating a case study drawn from six months of fieldwork on data centres in Mexico, Spain, UK and Chile, revealing that algorithmic harms go beyond code pitfalls. A close examination into the supply chain capitalism of AI reveals that other types of eco-political frictions are arising, particularly in the context of fundamental and environmental rights. This demands a broader and critical perspective on AI studies by considering the entire capitalist production line of its industry—from mineral extractivism to e-waste dumps—and its environmental and political consequences.”