New book examines the impact of artificial intelligence on academic work

  • Date

    Mon 8 Nov 21

red and black image of computer circuit board

A new book by Professor John Preston explores how Artificial Intelligence (AI) is having an increasing impact on the higher education sector.

Artificial Intelligence in the Capitalist University, published by Routledge on 5 November 2021, argues that Artificial Intelligence (AI) in higher education (HE) further alienates and exploits academic labour and commodifies learning and research.

Challenging the idea that AI is a break from previous capitalist technologies, the book offers nuanced examination of the impacts of AI on the control and regulation of academic work and labour, on digital learning and remote teaching, and on the value of learning and knowledge. The text puts forward a solid theoretical framework and methodology for thinking about AI to inform critical and revolutionary pedagogies.

Professor Preston, FAcSS, from the Department of Sociology said: “Marx predicted that the future of production would be that workers might simply become 'conscious linkages' in a network of machines orientated towards profit.

“The same technologies that are being used in digital manufacturing are being used in HE to increase surpluses and streamline workforces and even our universities now embody this nightmare where, disciplined through AI and other advanced technologies, academics labour in unison to produce vast ‘data commodities’.

“Data analytics is animated and characterised (‘Pixarfied’) through software packages and management consultants. The University is becoming ever more unrecognisable but as academics are dismissed and capitalism becomes increasingly unsustainable the future may lie in co-operative forms.” 

Offering an impactful and timely analysis, this book provides a critical engagement and application of key Marxist concepts in the study of AI’s role in Higher Education.

The book draws on Professor Preston’s latest research on the ways in which technology, particularly AI, is revolutionising production processes, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.