Bring AI under democratic public ownership.

Photo/Mike Mackenzie/CC

We have recently seen a leap forward in the capabilities of artificial intelligence (AI) particularly in the development of tools like Chat-GPT. This has led to fears regarding the impact of this technology on workers as we head towards a wave of AI-propelled automation. However, AI technology is to an extent misunderstood, with its capabilities not being clear. The recent advances have been in “large language models” which effectively answer a question by predicting words that would make the most sense in a sentence to answer the prompt.

The predictions are based on large bodies of text that have previously been generated by people, and the AI is “trained” on this information.


As such, the technology has limitations in what it can generate and it is limited by the nature of the training text but, nonetheless, allows for the automation of text-based tasks.

As such, those in text-based industries, such as editors and writers, may be at risk of cuts to jobs as work in this domain shifts from writing content to editing AI generated text.

However, due to AI being based on previous text, there are limits to its creative ability, and there will always be a requirement for human oversight in the process. As AI technology is integrated into the workplace, workers need to organise in their unions to protect their jobs and fight for the creation of new jobs to move into as AI automation occurs.

AI technology is at present predominantly controlled by corporations. Big tech firms such as Google and Microsoft are involved in much of the cutting-edge work with AI. While there are some collaborations with public organisations and universities, there are major costs involved in developing AI. The computer component that can train a large language model is extremely costly and is unaffordable for many public organisations.

Consequently, large corporations have a monopoly on AI technology and are able to develop it in the interests of capitalism and their own profit margins, rather than in the interest of workers and wider society.

For the working class to ensure the development of this technology for societal good we need to fight for all newly developed technology to be openly accessible rather than sold at extortionate prices or reserved to only serve the 1%. We also need to fight for technology development to be under democratic public control, so it is developed to fulfill tasks that benefit society, not just tasks that allow companies to cut back on labour costs and kick workers out of their jobs.

Socialist planning

A democratically planned socialist society, based on public ownership of big business and the banks, would be able to use technology in a different way. Instead of hunting for profit, production could be planned with other priorities in mind, such as reducing the necessary time for people to have to work, alongside protecting the environment and the wellbeing of workers.

A socialist society, in which the resources and knowledge of society are owned and directed democratically by workers themselves, would mean technology is freed from the narrow interests of the capitalists.

Technology which under capitalism condemns workers to lower wages and unemployment could be utilised for the good of us all.