Book cover
'Fake AI' is availiable at

Anthology features trenchant essays by leading AI researchers, journalists, and critics

Seventeen chapters unpack AI’s technical limitations, and its ability to discriminate and dehumanize

(Berlin, Germany | December 14, 2021) -- Much of the past decade has been spent hyping artificial intelligence (AI), but a new anthology released today provides a necessary intervention.

“Fake AI,” published by Meatspace Press, ruthlessly dismantles the exaggerated or outright fictional claims that have proliferated about AI — and also spotlights the real, tangible harms that result from overhyping this technology.

The 200-page anthology features 17 essays, interviews, and poems that examine AI flaws and misperceptions. Topics include AI’s dangerous ability to perpetuate discrimination; its phony branding as an all-purpose panacea; and the misguided belief that Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) is just over the horizon.

The book’s contributors range from a Princeton computer science professor (Arvind Narayanan), to an acclaimed cognitive scientist (Abeba Birhane), to a veteran journalist covering the emerging technology beat (James Vincent), to a former Google content moderator (Andrew Strait).

A recurring theme throughout the book is that AI’s hype isn’t just fake — it’s also dangerous, and its harms are unevenly distributed. The victims of this hype are the most vulnerable: poorly-paid Uber drivers who are overworked by capricious algorithms, or Black Americans who are misidentified by faulty police facial recognition systems.

The book is edited by Frederike Kaltheuner, a Berlin based tech policy analyst and researcher. Kaltheuner is currently Director of the EU AI Fund, and is a former Mozilla Fellow and Director at Privacy International.

Kaltheuner, who also penned the book’s introduction and one of the essays, says: “‘Fake AI’ asks why there are so many useless, and even dangerously flawed, AI systems. Not a week passes without some exaggerated claims about AI. Yet for a technology that has been touted as the solution to virtually every challenge imaginable, it’s shockingly limited and flawed.

For a technology that has been touted as the solution to virtually every challenge imaginable, it’s shockingly limited and flawed

Frederike Kaltheuner, author, 'Fake AI'

Kaltheuner continues: “This anthology provides a place to take stock, to look back and to examine the underlying causes, dynamics, and logics behind the rise of fake AI.”

Chapters in “Fake AI” include:

AI Snake Oil, Pseudoscience, and Hype, by Arvind Narayanan. This interview with Princeton computer science professor and AI critic Arvind Narayanan explains how so many commercial AI products are actually snake oil — technology with little or no evidence to back up its claims. And yet these products are bought, sold, and deployed to do sensitive tasks, from predicting “criminality” to hiring employees.

The Bodies Underneath the Rubble, by Deb Raji. This essay by AI researcher and Mozilla Fellow Deb Raji compares the failed AI systems of today to technological failures of earlier centuries, like the collapse of the Quebec Bridge and the mass production of automobiles without seatbelts. Raji argues that the “rubble” caused by poorly-engineered AI systems may not look like a pile of debris, but the human suffering it causes is all too familiar.

How (Not) to Blog About an Intelligent Toothbrush, by James Vincent. This essay by senior Verge reporter James Vincent explores the rise of “smart” products — toothbrushes, toilets, and alarm clocks that purport to use AI — and how journalists can inadvertently fuel AI hype by writing about them.

When Fintech Meets 60 Million Unbanked Citizens, by Favour Borokini and Ridwan Oloyede. This chapter, by two Nigerian technologists, examines the fintech obsession roiling Nigeria’s financial sector — and how AI-driven “solutions” to financial fraud and disenfranchisement are actually making matters worse. “The real risk seems to be that these solutions could exclude minorities and privileged profit at the expense of individuals’ rights and liberties,” the authors write.


Press contact: Kevin Zawacki | [email protected]