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Abstract: This talk will reflect on AI from the perspective of the framework of data colonialism (Couldry and Mejias, 2019). AI, in practical terms, represents the application of a hugely increase in computing capacity, but from the perspective of data colonialism as the continuation of five centuries of colonialism’s interlocking relations with capitalism is just the latest in a long series of colonial landgrabs. AI treats the whole world of human communicative production as its data territory (Mejias and Couldry, Data Grab, Penguin/Fischer February 2024). But AI’s territorial expansion is broader than the platform-based capture of social life that until recently fuelled data colonialism. Without denying the scientific power of AI for specific calculative goals, AI as a business vision captures the domain of knowledge and aims to convert it into a new domain whose parameters fit more closely within corporate control. Examples of new AI territories such as education will be discussed.

Bio: Nick Couldry is a sociologist of media and culture. He is Professor of Media Communications and Social Theory at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and in since 2017 also a Faculty Associate at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society. He is the author or editor of fifteen books including The Mediated Construction of Reality (with Andreas Hepp, Polity, 2016), Media, Society, World: Social Theory and Digital Media Practice (Polity 2012) and Why Voice Matters (Sage 2010). His latest books include The Costs of Connection: How Data is Colonizing Human Life and Appropriating Life for Capitalism (with Ulises Mejias: Stanford UP, 2019) and Media: Why It Matters (Polity: 2019). Nick is also co-founder of the Tierra Común network of scholars and activists (https://www.tierracomun.net/) and of the European Media Salon (https://www.european-media-salon.org/events).