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Code Dependent

Code Dependent

Living in the Shadow of AI

by Madhumita Murgia


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A riveting human story of how artificial intelligence systems are shaping people’s lives around the globe, revealing the perils and inequities of the growing reliance on automated decision-making

On the surface, a British poet, an UberEats courier in Pittsburgh, an Iraqi refugee, and a Chinese activist in exile have nothing in common. But they are in fact linked by a profound common experience—that of artificial intelligence. AI has already infiltrated our daily lives, without our conscious understanding. These automated systems draw patterns and predict behavior from large datasets. And their findings affect us on every level, from our interpersonal relationships to our kids, work, finances, public services, and even our human rights.

Through a series of personal narratives, Code-Dependent explores the impact of a set of powerful and flawed technologies on people, communities, and our wider society. Their stories, told from around the world and far removed from the cozy enclave of Silicon Valley, show how AI can influence our collective and individual sense of agency, and shatter our illusion of free will.

The ways in which algorithms and their effects are governed over the coming years will profoundly impact us all. Yet we lack the tools to interrogate that change. We cannot decide what preferences and morals we want to encode in these systems. We disagree on the controls we may want to impose on AI software. And thus, we are collectively relinquishing our moral authority to machines.

In Code-Dependent, Murgia not only sheds light on this chilling phenomenon, but also argues for another path forward. AI is already changing what it means to be human, in ways large and small—and Murgia reveals what could happen if we fail to reclaim our humanity.

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