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Digital Technologies and Power: The Atlas of AI


Admission requirements

Intended for all BA and BSc students registered for the minor Responsible Innovation.


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%)


If the end grade is insufficient, it is possible to take a resit examination. This resit examination takes place in one exam and covers all the material of the course. The faculty rules relating to participation in resit examinations can be found in article 4.1 of the faculty Course and Examination Regulations (OER).

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 for each individual course through My Studymap Login | Universiteit Leiden



Not applicable.