Course on AI and Labour

Hi all,
Since we are planning to approach people (Akshay and others) on the possibility of running a short of course for us on AI and Labour, it may be better to list the questions we have. The course may also possibly help develop a curriculum on AI which addresses (our) concerns. Once we have listed what we expect of such a course and what are the answers we seek, we can compile it into a document and approach people. Further it will also help us focus our attention and collect relevant resources instead of getting lost in the ‘maze’.

Thanks for initiating this Arul. I guess, there is a way to notify the concerned people that we have started this, right? By sending a link to them?

@senthil.babu Tagging others below. Who else needs to be added?

@myprostheticsoul @Tathagata @ganesh @voidspacexyz @demonshreder @akshay

Ultimately, we should be able to understand what role technologies like AI can play in radical social change and emancipation. It might be a long road to get to that point, so for now, the question should focus on:

  1. What roles do technologies like AI can play in enhancing the status quo and subjugation?
  2. Do the old tools of political economy still hold in light of these technologies? If so, how do we modify those tools to account for the new dimensions these technologies bring? If not, what new tools do we have to map out the evolving systems of powers and resistance?
  3. What role does AI play in automating labour? A large amount of the technology seems to focus on managerial and administrative labour, so how does this affect manual labour and the traditional working classes?
  4. Given the suspicion of surveillance and automating technologies, what movements have been able to achieve concrete victories for the labouring and oppressed classes? What can we learn from them?
  5. What aspects of Indian history/law/culture/economy make India distinct from other countries? With specific reference to the Universal Basic Income debate, what aspects would pose a challenge in aligning with global movements?
  6. How do we weigh out these parallel sets of concerns? Surveillance by the state and corporations, manipulation by tech-corporate, alienation and social identities, extraction of value in subtle ways
  7. What political demands/action should we make in light of these new technologies? What are illusionary victories or defeats? What constitutes a real victory or defeat?
  8. What should the role of the expert be at this time? What kinds of expertise do we need to come together (beyond disciplinary territoriality)? What message
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  1. What should the role of the expert be at this time? What kinds of expertise do we need to come together (beyond disciplinary territoriality)? What message do we send to other movements? What are the broader messages?

Hi all, reposting again… from another thread to avoid bifurcation.

A reading list of books that grounds on History of Work & Tools, and How current state of technology intertwines with the Labour exploitation is necessary. Based on such perspective the following list seems to be related :


  1. Book of Why
  2. Work - The last 1000 years
  3. Labour’s Mind
  4. Robotic Imaginary - Human and the Price of Dehumanized Labor
  5. Weapons of Math Destruction
  6. Uber Land
  7. Age of Surveillance Capitalism
  8. People Vs Tech
  9. How language informs Mathematics
  10. 21st Century Journalism in India
  11. Hello World, How to be human in the age of machine
  12. Mathematics of Love


  1. Automation for the Artisanal Economy
  2. Software, Infrastructure, Labor: A Media Theory of Logistical Nightmares
  3. Growth, Automation, and the Long-Run Share of Labor
  4. Economics of Social Data
  5. Changing Economics of Knowledge Production
  6. Of techno-ethics and techno-affects
  7. Bored Techies Being Casually Racist: Race as Algorithm
  8. Model Talk: Calculative Cultures in Quantitative Finance
  9. Towards a Cartography of the Commons


  1. Ethical OS
  2. ORCAA - Algorithm Audit
  3. Ad.Watch - Counter publics


  1. Social Dilemma


  1. Black Mirror
  2. Anon
  3. ExMachina
  4. Do you trust this computer
  5. Travelling sales man


  1. Critical AI
  2. All - international mailing list for Critical AI Studies
  3. Public Books - Book lists and Podcast
  4. Institute of Public Knowledge
  5. Social Robot futures - Awakening to Realities of AI in Healthcare
  6. Center for Humane Technology


  1. Kavita Philip’s course on Robots are Coming : Technology, Work and Difference


While usually our technological skills are usually mapped on employment perspective, only recently a orientation towards acquiring skills that are really useful in addressing social issues is being learned, and practiced.

  1. To share and make interested participate in reading, learning and contributing (Trying out in Free Software Communities)
  2. To develop technological alternative that strengthens local labour/trade union associations
  3. To develop platform services as solution for working class, to critically observe, and make metrics that can actually address the problems, which has to be materialized as mathematical models and algorithms
  4. To learn how algorithms can influence social injustice in Indian Context (caste, gender, credit & class)

@myprostheticsoul thanks for listing out these questions. Helped in clearing the murky waters for me.

  1. What did IBM done in Genocide - very similar is possible even if it is subtle but brutal at psychological level
  2. Inversion of the transparency relationship between the ruling class (state) and the working class (commons). Ex: Erosion of RTI.
  3. Making ML/AI based machines in calculation of credit scores (think sesame score in China), makes it opaque really, and throttling it with decision making power where actually human touch is expected.
  4. Ease of payment through automation, and addiction of consumption triggered by rapid rise in purchasing power, will increase recirculating the financial flow back to the capital/ruling class, status quo, etc…
  5. Exclusion of citizen ship based on automated exclusion from the AI maintained registration – tempered with recommendation power.
  6. Identity Black Market (IBM) can be made latent - thus reducing us from citizens to subjects to objects in DB where each profile have a value in some deep dark side of internet - which state has no control so far. Leakage is a problem that can trigger avalanche effect, time bomb effect when centralised too much and with wrong/greedy hands

Usually any kind of automation intervention in social relationships and in Labour in the following ways as i learned in time :

  1. By individualising, hyper individualizing, and romanticizing hyper individualism.
  2. By portraying, narrating a NEUTRAL stand of role of technology.
  3. By promoting “Disruptive Hopes” that will pull working labourers from their current toil to a more imaginable and probably future.
  4. By mediating technology services between traditional working class relationship with the ruling class. Thus further separating and distancing the worker from the consumer. This is where telecom and automation shares common ground. Thus telecom is the material where people can be sowed and then reaped for profiling through addictive social networks that further exploits producer side of both the technology and the relationship that it replaces with.
  5. By popularising revenue generation through consumerism - as an accelerator to the neoliberal market space. Thus actually making the consumers as USERS of the consumerist addiction.

AFAIK, there exists both conscious(deliberate) and unconscious(latent) nexus relationship between economic class subjugation and social caste/race subjugation on knowledge access grounds. I don’t have any statistical study as reference to claim this. However, any interest that aids knowledge denial through proprietary systems using IPR, patents easily overlaps with the knowledge denial on gender, nationality, and caste basis. Reinforcement of caste, gender, oppression through means like credit, accessibility, availability, affordability - in India what strikes unique, but could not refer studies.

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