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Digital Technologies and Power: The Atlas of AI


Admission requirements

Intended for all BA and BSc students who successfully completed their first year-programme (propedeuse)


How is AI shaping our understanding of ourselves and our societies? AI can be seen as a technology of extraction: from the energy and minerals needed to build and sustain its infrastructure, to the labor behind “automated” services, to the data AI collects from us. In the book “The Atlas of AI” Kate Crawford offers us a political and a material perspective on what it takes to make artificial intelligence and where it goes wrong. While technical systems present a veneer of objectivity, they are always systems of power.

In this course, we will critically read the book “The Atlas of AI” and review it in the form of group debate sessions. This serves as an exercise in critically investigating long-term broad societal impacts of technological advances.

Course objectives

At the end of this course the participants will:

  • Be able to evaluate frameworks for societal impacts of digital technologies;

  • Be able to analyze the contents of the book;

  • Be able to apply the framework presented in the book to their own personal experiences, and connect to their disciplinary perspectives.


The timetables can be downloaded here.

All meetings and sessions are obligatory. For each absence, students have to do an assignment.

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures

  • Seminars

Assessment method


  • Written assignment: blog/short essay (1000 words) on reflections on power and politics of AI

  • Group presentations

  • Participation: contribution to subgroup meetings


  • Written assignment (50%)

  • Group presentations (40%)

  • Participation (10%)


The students are allowed one resit per examination. Resit will be arranged only if the weighted average of the three components of the assessment does not amount to a pass (6 or higher). The resit format needs to be discussed with the teacher of the course in line with examination regulations.

In case the student is granted an extra resit by the Board of Examiners, this resit has to take place within study year 2021-2022. This means the students have to complete the minor within one study year.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

  • Kate Crawford, “Atlas of AI: Power, Politics, and the Planetary Costs of Artificial Intelligence” (2021).

Supplementary readings will be announced through Brightspace.


Students need to register for the minor at their home university and in uSis Leiden, and for each individual course in uSis Leiden.

Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Arsenaal


Not applicable.