Speaker: Dr. Anupam Guha, University of Maryland

Date/Time/Venue: 9th Feb. (Friday), 12:00 noon, SIT-001

Title: AI, Society and Politics of the Future

Abstract:  At the dawn of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, this time centred around artificial intelligence there is both great peril and great hope.

Great peril because currently demonstrated technology, if there are no radical socio-economic changes, will kill a significant percentage of Indian jobs and create precarity for the hundreds of millions of India’s workers, both formal and informal, from farmers to engineers. Great hope because the same technology could create a quantum leap in productivity and logistics enabling the potential formation of a radical national policy which could perhaps, if backed with political imagination and wisdom, lead to an emancipation of Indian labour. This fork in the road cannot be avoided.

There are reactionaries who will not look at AI critically and such a political dismissal of a titanic force will render us vulnerable, and there are also neoliberal technocrats who are enamoured with solutionism and who ignore the structural changes needed to make prosperity under AI possible. My talk will focus on, in the Indian context, the potentials of current AI, the need for a critical politically-educated look at it, the need for a radical rethink, beyond band-aid measures like UBI and robot taxes, towards the structural issues of work, wage, property, and public prosperity, and the possible futures of AI. In describing the above, my talk will also lay out the framework for a new kind of politics for the same.

Speaker Bio:
Anupam Guha is a computer scientist, working on Artificial Intelligence and Computational Linguistics based in the US east coast with a PhD from the University of Maryland (batch of 2017) and a MS from Georgia Tech (batch of 2010).

He is deeply interested in and does outreach on the future Social, Political, and Economic implications of AI, especially both its oppressive and emancipatory potentials for Labour. Dr. Guha advocates a better understanding of the political-economy of the fully automated future. He sees the question of AI intricately woven with the question of future labour, i.e. the student community. Thus, Dr. Guha engages in critical solidarity with progressive Indian student politics. Dr. Guha advocates a radical reinterpretation of wage, work, and public prosperity, as well as democratic ownership models of automation, in the light of imminent AI. Dr. Guha does advocacy for an increased communication between silos of academia, science informed policy, politics informed science, and supports free, universal, and quality higher education in India.

Dr. Guha has written in Hindustan Times, Indian Express, and TheWire.in on the issues of AI, Labour, and the Politics of Science.