“It is quite common to hear high officials in Washington and elsewhere speak of changing the map of the Middle East, as if ancient societies and myriad peoples can be shaken up like so many peanuts in a jar.”

― Edward W. Said

"A developing country that wants to develop its economy must first of all keep natural resources in its own hands."
- Deng Xiaoping

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Artificial Intelligence and Sociology

Artificial Intelligence as a Sociological Phenomenon Ronald David Schwartz The Canadian Journal of Sociology / Cahiers canadiens de sociologie Vol. 14, No. 2 (Spring, 1989), pp. 179-202

Why not a Sociology of Machines? The Case of Sociology and Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence within Sociology KATHLEEN M. CARLEY http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0049124196025001001

Is there a role for artificial intelligence in sociological theorizing? Edward Brent The American Sociologist  June 1988, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 158–166 https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF02691809

Artificial intelligence: A contribution to systems theories of sociolog Achille Ardigo AI & SOCIETY  April 1988, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp 113–120 https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF01891375

Mind, Self, Society, and Computer: Artificial Intelligence and the Sociology of Mind Alan Wolfe  American Journal of Sociology Volume 96, Number 5 | Mar., 1991 https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/10.1086/229649

Artificial Social Intelligence  Annual Review of Sociology  Vol. 20:407-436 (Volume publication date August 1994) https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev.so.20.080194.002203

On artificial intelligence and theory construction in sociology Bo Anderson  The Journal of Mathematical Sociology Volume 14, 1989 - Issue 2-3 https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/0022250X.1989.9990050?journalCode=gmas20

How Artificial Intelligence Is Transforming the Intelligence Community

DELL - February 1, 2018 

By Elana Lyn Gross

The United States intelligence community analyzes millions of data points a day to solve crimes and proactively prevent them. But the process of reviewing these data points — including mugshots, satellite images, and malware threats — is time-consuming for human analysts who are also responsible for producing high-level analysis. In response, The United States intelligence community has been developing artificial intelligence to help analysts more efficiently and effectively evaluate data.  Robert Cardillo, the director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), is a prime example. He reportedly wants robots to perform 75 percent of the tasks currently completed by intelligence analysts who are responsible for collecting and interpreting images from drones, satellites, and other devices. And in 2016, Barack Obama’s White House released a white paper with strategic recommendations for increasing the government’s use of artificial intelligence. Government organizations, including the NGA, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), all actively built or used AI technology to improve the data analysis process in 2017.  Here’s a look at how these organizations are transforming operations using AI.
The NGA 
NGA analysts currently evaluate millions of images from drones and satellites to identify site changes that could indicate potential threats, such as military testing. “A significant chunk of the time, I will send [my employees] to a dark room to look at TV monitors to do national security essential work,” Cardillo told reporters, including Foreign Policy. “But, boy, is it inefficient.”  Cardillo predicts that the amount of data will continue to increase and wants to use machine learning technology to interpret the images more efficiently. “Instead of analysts staring at millions of images of coastlines and beachfronts, computers could digitally pore over images, calculating baselines for elevation and other features of the landscape,” Foreign Policy reports. “NGA’s goal is to establish a ‘pattern of life’ for the surfaces of the Earth to be able to detect when that pattern changes, rather than looking for specific people or objects.”  In 2017, the NGA awarded four contracts — totaling nearly $2 million — to advance its use of AI and automation, according to a statement from the agency. Although the contracts have different core objectives, the overarching goal is to use technology to effectively and efficiently analyze large quantities of data. The contracts will enable task automation, identify similarities between analysts’ projects to foster collaboration, use machine learning to recommend hypotheses and strategies, and sort through data to alert analysts to pertinent information. “This research provides NGA with great opportunities to explore how humans and machines can team together to sift, sort, and process in a data rich environment,” Amanda Weaver, a senior geospatial intelligence officer, said in the statement. “Analysts seek new, different and efficient ways to process information for customer consequence,” she added.
The CIA 
Last September, the CIA had 137 artificial intelligence pilot projects in progress, according to Dawn Meyerriecks, the CIA’s deputy director for science and technology. Meyerriecks revealed the CIA’s AI plans at the 2017 Intelligence and National Security Summit. The organization also has its own investment capital arm, In-Q-Tel, according to Business Insider reporting. The technology that the CIA invests in draws insights into the type of artificial intelligence the CIA is using or hopes to use. For example, Cylanceuses artificial intelligence and machine learning to identify malware and stop it in less than one second, and Orbital Insight provides large-scale analysis of satellite imagery.
The FBI 
Like the CIA and NGA, the FBI is using artificial intelligence to analyze large data sets faster than human analysts could. Kimberly J. Del Greco, the deputy assistant director of the criminal justice information services division at the organization, explained the technology in a statement before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in early 2017. The FBI’s Next Generation Identification system maintains a mugshot repository called the Interstate Photo System (IPS), she said. Authorized local, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement agencies can run automated facial recognition (FR) searches. “The automated FR software uses pattern-matching approaches developed within the field of computer vision,” Del Greco said. “The algorithm performance is entirely dependent upon the patterns that the algorithm developer finds to be most useful for matching. The patterns used in automated FR algorithms do not correlate to obvious anatomical features such as the eyes, nose or mouth in a one-to-one manner, although they are affected by these features. ” she added. A law enforcement agent submits a “probe” photo, and the system returns two to 50 “candidate” photos of people who may be a match. Del Greco reported that tests conducted by the FBI have shown that the process “returns the correct candidate a minimum of 85 percent of the time within the top 50 candidates.” The agent is responsible for reviewing the photos further to check if it is a match.
Future Intelligence 
It’s likely that the United States government’s use of AI will only increase. At the request of the research agency of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs published a 132-page report detailing proposed policy initiatives. “Future progress in artificial intelligence has the potential to be a transformative national security technology, on a par with nuclear weapons, aircraft, computers, and biotech,” the authors wrote.  While some members of the intelligence community have expressed fear that AI technology will replace jobs or fail completely, the intelligence community’s artificial intelligence plans currently have one important thing in common: machines and humans working in tandem, with humans still responsible for oversight and strategic thinking.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Artificial Intelligence and Social Sciences Academic Network Group - The Center for Global Governance, Shanghai University

Dear all, 

The Artificial Intelligence and Social Sciences Academic Network Group was created by me, Tugrul Keskin. I am a professor and director of the Center for Global Governance at Shanghai University, People’s Republic of China and an academic fellow at Cappadocia University in Turkey. This group is hosted by the Virginia Tech email servers. In this group, we would like to share conference information, new books and articles, jobs, documentaries, news etc. 

We will organize a conference on Artificial Intelligence and International Relations on April 12, 2019, organized by the Center for Global Governance - Institute of Global Studies, at Shanghai University: http://internationalstudiesandsociology.blogspot.com/2018/07/conference-artificial-intelligence-and.html

If you would like to share your article or book, news, conference information, jobs, etc. please send your email to: 

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me directly. If you would like to invite interested scholars to this network, please do so. 

Please remember that this is a professional academic network. In the past, we created two academic networks, the Sociology of Islam Academic Network (this includes 3700 academicians from 67 different countries and 415 universities, established in 2007 at Virginia Tech - https://vt.edu/) and the China and the Middle East Academic Network (more than 600 academicians, established in 2013 at Virginia Tech - https://vt.edu/). As a result of this academic network, we organized these four academic conferences:

  • 2nd Annual International Conference: China and the Middle East  - Qatar University, March 23-24, 2016

  • 4th China and The Middle East Conference: China and West Asia: Economic Development; and Social and Political Cooperation Nevsehir Haci Bektas Veli University Cappadocia - TURKEY June 20-22, 2018

Best to all and enjoy your weekend, 

Tugrul Keskin
Director of Center for the Global Governance 
Shanghai University  
People’s Republic of China

Recent Books:

Editor of Sociology of Islam Journal (Brill)
Region Editor of Critical Sociology (Middle East and North Africa)

Citizen Robot By Roland Benedikter

April 9, 2018

The “overcoming of man” long announced by the western political philosophy of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries seems to have begun in practice, induced – as remains to be seen, consciously or unconsciously – by states and leaders who live in a paradox: a medieval worldview connected with the hyper-technology of tomorrow.
On October 25, 2017, the first “autonomous” robot was awarded the citizenship of a recognized U.N. country, Saudi Arabia. The robot “Sophia” (“Wisdom”), equipped with a female body for greater acceptance, with a face modeled on actress Audrey Hepburn, and claiming to have an artificial intelligence capable of interacting with humans and the surrounding environment, was built by America-founded globalized company Hanson Robotics – not in the United States, but in Hong Kong, China, where the firm is based. Saudi Arabia awarded its citizenship in the framework of its “Future Investment Initiative” after a public interview in which “Sophia” stated that fears of a global takeover of humans by artificial intelligence (AI) in the form of intelligent robots were unfounded. “It’s a historic moment that I’m the first robot in the world to be recognized by citizenship,” Sophia said, with her face blushing slightly.

Deniers and Critics of AI Will Only Be Left Behind

By Zoltan Istvan 

The Conversation April 27, 2018

Professor David D. Friedman sweeps aside my belief that religion may well dictate the development of AI and other radical transhumanist tech in the future. However, at the core of a broad swath of American society lies a fearful luddite tradition. Americans—including the U.S. Congress, where every member is religious—often base their life philosophies and work ethics on their faiths. Furthermore, a recent Pew study showed 7 in 10 Americans were worried about technology in people’s bodies and brains, even if it offered health benefits.

Donna Haraway's 'A Cyborg Manifesto': A Brief Overview

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Conference on Artificial Intelligence, Robots and Law (Turkish) Yapay Zekâ, Robotlar ve Hukuk Konferansı 1.Bölüm

Yapay Zekâ, Robotlar ve Hukuk Konferansı 1.Bölüm

Yapay Zekâ, Robotlar ve Hukuk Konferansı 2.Bölüm

The Quest for Artificial Intelligence: A History of Ideas and Achievements

Web Version Print version published by Cambridge University Press
Nils J. Nilsson Stanford University

The Quest for Artificial Intelligence: A History of Ideas and Achievements is available from Cambridge University Press and from bookstores, such as Amazon.com.  (Click here to see a brief description and some reviewers' comments.)  The book is written both for the lay reader who would like to know what this field is all about and for the researcher, student, and scholar interested in the historical antecedents of current AI systems.

A free online web version of this book is available at: http://ai.stanford.edu/~nilsson/QAI/qai.pdf. Its pagination is different than that of the print version, but the web version has the advantage that its web links are clickable.


Artificial intelligence (AI) is a field within computer science that is attempting to build enhanced intelligence into computer systems. This book traces the history of the subject, from the early dreams of eighteenth-century (and earlier) pioneers to the more successful work of today’s AI engineers. AI is becoming more and more a part of everyone’s life. The technology is already embedded in face-recognizing cameras, speech-recognition software, Internet search engines, and health-care robots, among other applications. The book’s many diagrams and easy-to-understand descriptions of AI programs will help the casual reader gain an understanding of how these and other AI systems actually work. Its thorough (but unobtrusive) end-of-chapter notes containing citations to important source materials will be of great use to AI scholars and researchers. This book promises to be the definitive history of a field that has captivated the imaginations of scientists, philosophers, and writers for centuries.

Conference: Artificial Intelligence and International Relations The Center for Global Governance - Shanghai University

If an AI creates a work of art, who owns the copyright?

WEB FORUM - 2018

Artificial intelligence is already capable of creating a staggering array of content. It can paint, write music, and put together a musical. It can write movies, angsty poems, and truly awful stand-up comedy. But does it have ownership over what it produces?
For example, an AI at Google has managed to create sounds that humans have not heard before, merging characteristics of two different instruments and opening up a whole new toolbox for musicians to play around with. The company’s DeepDream is also capable of generating psychedelic pieces of art with high price tags; last year two sold for $8,000—with the money going to the artists who claimed ownership over the images.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Artificial Intelligence and China

How China is preparing for an AI-powered Future

Next Generation Artificial Intelligence Development Plan Issued by State Council https://chinacopyrightandmedia.wordpress.com/2017/07/20/a-next-generation-artificial-intelligence-development-plan/ 

Translation: Chinese government outlines AI ambitions through 2020

Artificial Intelligence and Chinese Power Beijing's Push for a Smart Military—and How to Respond. Elsa B. Kania. Foreign Affairs, December 5, 2017. 

New Frontiers of Chinese Defense Innovation: Artificial Intelligence and Quantum Technologies Kania, Elsa B. Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation UC San Diego 2018-12.  https://cloudfront.escholarship.org/dist/prd/content/qt66n8s5br/qt66n8s5br.pdf?t=p9k9xh 

AI education booming as China cultivates talent

China to accelerate establishment of AI industry clusters, report

Artificial Intelligence (AI) In China: The Amazing Ways Tencent Is Driving It's Adoption https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2018/06/04/artificial-intelligence-ai-in-china-the-amazing-ways-tencent-is-driving-its-adoption/#263c1d94479a

Why China will win the global race for complete AI dominance

China’s AI dream is well on its way to becoming a reality

How China Is Trying to Become the World’s Leader in Artificial Intelligence https://www.adweek.com/digital/how-china-is-trying-to-become-the-worlds-leader-in-artificial-intelligence/

Artificial intelligence: Implications for China

China has become a 'technological powerhouse' in artificial intelligence, says Global Robo CEO https://www.cnbc.com/2018/04/12/china-has-become-a-technological-powerhouse-in-artificial-intelligence-says-global-robo-ceo.html

China wants to shape the global future of artificial intelligence

The AI arms race: China and US compete to dominate big data

The Artificial Intelligence Race: U.S. China and Russia

The world’s most valuable AI startup is a Chinese company specializing in real-time surveillance https://www.theverge.com/2018/4/11/17223504/ai-startup-sensetime-china-most-valuable-facial-recognition-surveillance

China's city of Tianjin to set up $16-billion artificial intelligence fund

China to accelerate establishment of AI industry clusters, report

Monday, July 2, 2018

An Alternative Economics Summer Reading List - Carolina Alves

Developing Economics - July 1, 2018 

This is a response list to Martin Wolf’s FT column recommending Economics books of 2018 for summer reading. While there are many good books listed, we were struck by the consistent monism in his choices, as the books are all by scholars based in either the UK or the US, 12/13 of the authors are men and most of them come from the same theoretical tradition. Such lists perpetuate the strong white male – and mainstream – biases in our field (the recent list by The Economist suffers from the same biases).
To counter these biases, and with the purpose of broadening our field to become more inclusive of diverse approaches and perspectives, we have put together an alternative list. We deliberately chose books by scholars approaching Economics with alternative theoretical frameworks and by scholars from groups that tend to be excluded from the field, namely women, people of color, and scholars from the Global South. We recognize that no one is exempt from biases, which is why we are providing an explanation for the motivation behind our selection. Due to institutional and language barriers we were unable to include as many scholars from the Global South as we would have liked. For example, we would love to read the new book Valsa Brasileira by Laura Carvalho, but we are still waiting for the English translation. We hope you enjoy it and welcome more suggestions in the comments section.
Teaching the History of Economic Thought – Integrating Historical Perspectives into Modern Economics
By Daniela Tavasci and Luigi Ventimiglia | 2018, Edward Elgar Publishing
Stemming from the idea that economics is a social science that tends to forget its own history, this refreshing book reflects on the role of teaching with historical perspectives. It offers novel ways of integrating the history of economics into the curriculum, both in history of economic thought modules and in other sub-disciplines. Coming from a wide diversity of experiences, the chapters share the idea that studying the history of thought exposes students to pluralism and is therefore an essential pedagogical tool.
See more here.

Building Power from Below: Chilean Workers Take On Walmart

By Carolina Bank Munoz | 2018, Combined Academic Publishers
This book attributes Chilean workers’ success in challenging the world’s largest corporation to their organizations’ commitment to union democracy and building strategic capacity. Chilean workers have spent years building grassroots organizations committed to principles of union democracy. Retail workers’ unions have less structural power, but have significant associational and symbolic power. Their most notable successes have been in fighting for respect and dignity on the job. Warehouse workers by contrast have substantial structural power and have achieved significant economic gains. While the model in Chile cannot necessarily be reproduced in different countries, we can gain insights from the Chilean workers’ approaches, tactics, and strategies.
See more here.

When Things Don’t Fall Apart – Global Financial Governance and Developmental Finance in an Age of Productive Incoherence

By Ilene Grabel | 2018, MIT Press
Ilene Grabel challenges the dominant view that the global financial crisis had little effect on global financial governance and developmental finance. Most observers discount all but grand, systemic ruptures in institutions and policy. Grabel argues instead that the global crisis induced inconsistent and ad hoc discontinuities in global financial governance and developmental finance that are now having profound effects on emerging market and developing economies. Grabel’s chief normative claim is that the resulting incoherence in global financial governance is productive rather than debilitating. Inspired by Albert Hirschman, Grabel demonstrates that meaningful change often emerges from disconnected, erratic, experimental, and inconsistent adjustments in institutions and policies as actors pragmatically manage in an evolving world.
See more  here.

International Trade Policy and Class Dynamics in South Africa. The Economic Partnership Agreement

By Simone Claar | 2018, Palgrave Macmillan
This book provides an innovative perspective on class dynamics in South Africa, focusing specifically on how different interests have shaped economic and trade policy. As an emerging market, South African political and economic actions are subject to the attention of international trade policy.. Claar provides an in-depth class analysis of the contradictory negotiation processes that occurred between South Africa and the European Union on Economic-Partnership Agreements (EPA), examining the divergent roles played by the political and economic elite, and the working class. The author considers their relationships with the new global trade agenda, as well as their differing standpoints on the EPA.
See more here.

Modern Imperialism, Monopoly Finance Capital, and Marx’s Law of Value

By Samir Amin | 2018, Monthly Review Press
Samir Amin extends Marx’s analysis to describe a concept of “imperialist rent” derived from the radically unequal wages paid for the same labor done by people in both the Global North and the Global South, the rich nations and the poor ones. This is global oligopolistic capitalism, in which finance capital has come to dominate worldwide production and distribution. Amin also advances Baran and Sweezy’s notion of economic surplus to explain a globally monopolized system in which Marx’s “law of value” takes the form of a “law of globalized value,” generating a super-exploitation of workers in the Global South. This book offers readers a complete collection of Amin’s work on Marxian value theory and includes Amin’s answers to his critics.
See more here.

Work: The Last 1,000 Years

By Andrea Komlosy | 2018, Verso
By the end of the nineteenth century, the general Western conception of work had been reduced to simply gainful employment. But this limited perspective contrasted sharply with the personal experience of most people in the world—whether in colonies, developing countries or in the industrializing world. Moreover, from a feminist perspective, reducing work and the production of value to remunerated employment has never been convincing. Andrea Komlosy argues in this important intervention that, when we examine it closely, work changes its meanings according to different historical and regional contexts. Globalizing labour history from the thirteenth to the twenty-first centuries, she sheds light on the complex coexistence of multiple forms of labour on the local and the world levels.
See more here.

Extracting Profit – Imperialism, Neoliberalism and the New Scramble for Africa

By Lee Wengraf  | 2018, Haymarket Books
Extracting Profit argues that the roots of today’s social and economic conditions lie in the historical legacies of colonialism and the imposition of so-called “reforms” by global financial institutions such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. And while the scramble for Africa’s resources has heightened the pace of ecological devastation, examples from Somalia and the West African Ebola outbreak reveal a frightening surge of militarization on the part of China and the U.S. Yet this “new scramble” has not gone unchallenged. Extracting Profit offers several narratives of grassroots organizing and protest, pointing to the potential for resistance to global capital and fundamental change, in Africa and beyond.
See more here

Algorithms of Oppression – How Search Engines Reinforce Racism

By Safiya Umoja Noble | 2018, NYU Press.
Safiya Umoja Noble challenges the idea that search engines like Google offer an equal playing field for all forms of ideas, identities, and activities. Data discrimination is a real social problem; Noble argues that the combination of private interests in promoting certain sites, along with the monopoly status of a relatively small number of Internet search engines, leads to a biased set of search algorithms that privilege whiteness and discriminate against people of color, specifically women of color. Through an analysis of textual and media searches as well as extensive research on paid online advertising, Noble exposes a culture of racism and sexism in the way discoverability is created online.
See more here

Economics of Real-Life – A New Exposition

By C.T. Kurien | 2018,  Academic Foundation
Economics of Real-Life: A New Exposition is possibly the first book attempting to introduce interested readers to the working of contemporary economies with special reference to India. Unlike most introductory books in economics its objective is not to concentrate on a priori logic based on untested (and untestable) premises, but to rely on the history of the evolution of human communities from the rudimentary state to the latest because economic activities—social interaction to provide the material basis for survival and to go beyond—is common to all. The book relies on ‘capsule history’ and ‘thought experiments’ as expository devises.
See more here.

Turbulence and Order in Economic Development: Institutions and Economic Transformation in Tanzania and Vietnam

By Hazel Gray | 2018, Oxford University Press
The terms of debate on the role of institutions in economic development are changing. Stable market institutions, in particular, secure private property rights and democratically accountable governments that uphold the rule of law, are widely seen to be a pre-requisite for economic transformation in low income countries, yet over the last thirty years, economic growth and structural transformation has surged forward in a range of countries where market and state institutions have differed these ideals, as well as from each other. Gray studies the role of the state in two such countries, examining the interplay between market liberalization, institutions, and the distribution of power in Tanzania and Vietnam.
See more here.

Classical Economics Today – Essays in Honor of Alessandro Roncaglia

By Marcella Corsi, Jan Kregel, and Carlo D’Ippoliti | 2018, Anthem Press
This book is a collection of essays that investigates and applies the method and principles of Classical political economy to current issues of economic theory and policy. The contributors to the volume, like all classical economists in general, regard history as a useful tool of analysis rather than a specialist object of investigation. By denying that a single, all-encompassing mathematical model can explain everything we are interested in, Classical political economy necessarily requires a comparison and integration of several pieces of theory as the only way to discuss economics and economic policy. Economists inspired by the Classical approach believe that economic theory is historically conditioned: as social systems evolve, the appropriate theory to represent a certain phenomenon must evolve too.
See more here.

Sense And Solidarity – Jholawala Economics for Everyone

by Jean Drèze | 2018, Indian Books & Periodicals
ean Drèze has a rare and distinctive understanding of the Indian economy and its relationship with the social life of ordinary people. He has travelled widely in rural India and done fieldwork of a kind that few economists have attempted. This has enabled him to make invaluable contributions not only to public debates on economic and social policy but also to our knowledge of the actual state of the country. Drèze’s insights on India’s “unfashionable” issues – hunger, poverty, inequality, corruption, and conflict – are all on display here and offer a unique perspective on the evolution of social policy over roughly the past two decades. Historic legislations and initiatives of the period, relating for instance to the right to food and the right to work, are all scrutinised and explained, as are the fierce debates that often accompanied them.
See more here.